Dunks + Clippers wins = money for Griffin

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
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Many woke up Tuesday morning to the Dunk Heard ‘Round the World -- a one-armed dunk by Blake Griffin over the head of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins. The Twitterverse has been lit up since; even LeBron James noted Griffin’s dunking prowess: “Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I'm #2 now. Move over #6.”

Griffin is very well known for his dunks -- the one over a Kia sedan during last year’s NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest probably drew the most national attention. But do the dunks turn into dollars for him?

“He’s an exciting, slam-dunk, highlight-film sort of player,” said Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment and Sports Marketing. “The dunk over the Kia obviously put him in a different stratosphere. Then the Clippers went out and became a good team.”

And that’s the real key to marketing power for Griffin: the Clippers winning.

“With the team winning, he could go to the next level,” Shabelman said. “He could get a quick one-off opportunity if they’re winning that would have otherwise gone to Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant or Dwight Howard.”

Shabelman estimates Griffin is making between $3 million and $5 million annually on endorsements, an amount that pales in comparison to James’ $30 million -- the top mark for an NBA player. Howard earned about $12 million last year.

Despite a loss to the Lakers last week, the Clippers lead the Pacific Division by 1.5 games. If the Clippers can continue to win and heat up the Lakers rivalry, Shabelman believes that Griffin will be in a position to explode on the marketing scene.

“Combined with the new success of the team, the addition of Chris Paul, the Lakers rivalry -- Blake Griffin is a force to be reckoned with in the marketing arena and could eventually challenge Kobe [Bryant], LeBron and some of the others,” he said.

Kristi Dosh

Sports Business
Dosh covers sports business for ESPN. She is an attorney, founder of BusinessOfCollegeSports.com, and joined ESPN in October 2011.
Author of "Saturday Millionaires: How winning football builds winning colleges."

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