The timing was impeccable. Impeccably bad.
About the time Jan. 26 that the Los Angeles Sports Council was announcing that Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin would be honored as the 2015 male sportsman of the year came news that Griffin would miss the next four to six weeks of action because of a broken hand suffered when he punched the team’s assistant equipment manager Jan. 23 in Toronto.
The incident raises questions about Griffin and the Clippers that need to be examined while his hand is healing.
Griffin was the number one overall pick in the NBA’s 2009 by the Clippers, but has never turned into the superstar the Clippers had hoped for. Even though he is a perennial all star, Griffin has never been the player the Clippers go to in the clutch. That is point guard Chris Paul.
He is also not the Clippers biggest inside presence. That is center DeAndre Jordan.
Before he suffered a partially torn tendon in his left quadricep muscle Christmas night against the Lakers, Griffin was averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and five assists per game. Yet, the Clippers were only 17-13 with him in the lineup. Without him, they are 12-3.
With Griffin in the lineup, the Clippers lead the league in whining about fouls to the officials. Griffin is always among the league leaders in technical fouls.
In other words, it is time for the Clippers to decide if they are better without Griffin than with him.
With the trade deadline coming up Feb. 18 (Griffin will still be out of action, barring a miraculous recovery). the Clippers would be wise to explore what they could get for him.
Maybe Cleveland would consider a trade for Kevin Love. Love’s outside shooting ability would help the Clippers and would continue to free up Jordan for inside points.
Griffin could mesh with LaBron James better than Love has in a year and a half and maybe give the Cavaliers a better chance at defeating the Warriors or Spurs in the NBA Finals.
If they don’t deal him at the trade deadline, the Clippers should consider trading him in the off-season, before he further damages his reputation and therefore his trade value.
Griffin was involved in an off-field altercation in 2014 that involved criminal charges filed against him that were later dropped.
No one knows if criminal charges will be filed regarding the Toronto incident. The Clippers and the NBA are both investigating the situation, meaning further penalties are possible down the line.
As presently constituted, the Clippers are not a contender for the NBA title.
They have not defeated the Warriors, the Spurs or the Cavaliers — arguably the top three teams in the league — so far this year.
As the current fourth seed in the West, the Clippers can expect to draw the Warriors if they get out of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. I don’t see that ending well for the Clippers.
It might be time to trade Griffen and see if there is someone who might fit better at power forward in the future.
PREP PLAYOFF PREVIEW: While on the subject of basketball, we are well into another season of high school basketball with the elite teams going through the motion of league play waiting for the playoffs to start. Just like the college game, which doesn’t matter until March Madness begins, the high school basketball season features a bunch of games that don’t matter.
On Jan. 30 that all changes with the Fairfax State Preview.
The preview features eight games of teams that figure to be in the playoffs.
Although it bears the name Fairfax, the games have been moved to Cerritos College in Norwalk because the gymnasium there holds 2,300, way more than most high school gyms.
The games begin at 9:30 a.m. with El Segundo facing Rolling Hills Prep. At 11 a.m., it is Calabasas versus Brentwood.
At 12:30 p.m., Durango, a Nevada school, faces Loyola. At 2 p.m. Serra plays Santa Monica. At 3:30 p.m., Army Navy, a San Diego school, faces Orange Lutheran.
Fairfax faces Windward at 5:30 p.m., leading up to the game everyone wants to see, Chino Hills, the state’s top team, against Bishop Montgomery, which is ranked 16th.
Chino Hills features the Ball family, led by 6-6 senior point guard Lonzo Ball who has committed to play at UCLA next year. LaMelo Ball is a 5-10 freshman and LiAngelo Ball is a 6-6 guard.
Earlier this month, the three brothers combined for 63 of 85 points in a two-point win over El Cajon Foothills Christian.
The final game at 8:30 p.m. features Maranatha versus Sierra Canyon.
DODGERS CARAVAN: The Dodgers are conducting their annual Community Caravan throughout the Southland this week, leading up to the Dodgers FanFest Jan. 30 at Dodger Stadium.
One stop Jan. 26 was at Muir High School in Pasadena, the alma mater of Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson. New Dodger manager Dave Roberts was part of a question-and-answer sessions with team historian Mark Langill and Dodger broadcaster Jorge Jarrin.
The highlight of the visit was the screening of portions of a documentary on Jackie Robinson by Ken Burns, which will air on PBS in April.
Earlier in the day, Roberts was honored by the county Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Roberts was “making history” as the first minority manager of the Dodgers.
Roberts told the board he was honored to take on the role.
“I’ve been in baseball so many years, my entire life,” the former Dodgers outfielder said. “It’s something that brings the community together.”
Roberts told the board he feels the weight of history.
“You look back at Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Maury Wills … it means a lot,” he said.
Roberts is one of only three minority managers in the major leagues. His mother is Japanese and his father is black.
Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles City Council weighed in on the Dodgers Jan. 26. More specifically, City Councilman Gil Cedillo suggested renaming Elysian Park Avenue between Sunset Boulevard and Stadium Way as Vin Scully Avenue in honor of the Dodgers longtime broadcaster.
Scully has said that the 2016 most likely will be his last as the Dodgers’ play-by-play voice after 67 years in the job.
In his typical modest fashion, Scully said the street should be named after former owners Walter or Peter O’Malley.
COLLEGIATE BOWL: College football all-star games are generally nothing to get too excited over and the fifth annual NFL Players Association’s Collegiate Bowl Jan. 23 at the StubHub Center in Carson lived up (down?) to expectations.
University of Missouri placekicker Andrew Baggett kicked six field goals to lead Team National to an 18-17 win over Team American.
Team American took an early 10-0 lead and expanded that to 17-6 at halftime, but couldn’t score in the second half. Baggett kicked four of his six field goals after halftime.
Former NFL coaches Mike Holmgren and Mike Martz coached the teams.
“What we try to afford [the players] is an opportunity to see how an NFL week of practice is run,” Martz said. “It’s kind of a grueling week. They weren’t real happy about it.
“What we try to do is teach them the type of skills that they’ll have to do when they go to a team, how to go to a meeting and take notes, where to sit in a meeting. We’re just trying to help these kids have the best opportunity of making a team and getting a leg up on it.”