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Couch Slouch: Blake Griffin transcends Clippers' bleak past

Blake Griffin of the hometown Clippers seals the NBA All-Star slam dunk competition by leaping over a car, catching a pass from driver Baron Davis and jamming it home before a wowed crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin of the hometown Clippers seals the NBA All-Star slam dunk competition by leaping over a car, catching a pass from driver Baron Davis and jamming it home before a wowed crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

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Monday, February 21, 2011; 12:01 AM

In his rookie season, Blake Griffin is an NBA all-star and a YouTube all-star. Every night, he spectacularly dunks two or three times; then, every morning, The Blake Show on the Internet gets more views than a Lindsay Lohan rehab sighting.

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I have lived in Los Angeles since 1992, and - until three months ago - at no time has anyone ever asked me, "Do the Clippers play tonight?"

I now rush home from the 99¢ Only Store to watch Clippers games.

But before we celebrate the beauty of Blake, you must understand the catastrophe that is the Clippers.

The Clippers' decades-odd desolation begins at the top. The Clippers under Donald Sterling make the Redskins under Daniel Snyder look like the Frankish Empire under Charlemagne. How many team owners get sued by their longtime general manager and heckle their starting point guard while sitting courtside?

If Sterling owned Starbucks, nobody in America would drink coffee.

Since Sterling bought the team in 1981, the Clippers have a record of 823-1,579, with two winning seasons.

Enter Blake Griffin.

Following the script of the Clippers' curse, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft was sidelined his entire first year, with a knee injury. Now, in his belated rookie season, he has soared boundlessly onto the L.A. skyline with singular energy and verve.

Still, the Clippers started this season 1-13 - well, to be fair, they start every season 1-13 - and were 5-21 before Griffin and company started to click.

I went to a Pistons-Clippers game early in the season - free seats - before Griffin became Shake 'n Blake. On several occasions, an older fan a couple of rows away shouted to Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro, "Hey, Vinny - nice suit!" This was easily the highlight of the night.

These days, Griffin is worth the full price of admission, especially since Clippers tickets are much less life-altering than Lakers tickets.


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