Thursday, February 3, 2011
Blake Griffin's All-Star nod is special
By Ramona Shelburne
There have been several rookies deserving of All-Star selections since fans voted Yao Ming as the All-Star center in 2003: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose.
And yet the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin has been the only one of that elite group selected as an All-Star by the league's coaches.
The reason why is a bit of a riddle: They chose him because he never expected or assumed he'd be chosen.
For players like Griffin, Rose, Paul, Durant and James, All-Star status is like a scout badge: once earned, never cut off the uniform. Once bestowed, an annual event.
But there's always been a certain protocol for earning that first badge. A year of waiting, a year to make you value that stature, a year for humility.
This is why Griffin's selection as a rookie is so meaningful.
Not only has he earned it with his play on the court, he's earned it by the way he's carried himself.
From the second Griffin stepped on the court this season he's played like a young player still trying to earn his minutes.
He's never come out to the Dougie in pregame warm-ups or done anything more than chew on his mouthpiece after a highlight-reel dunk.
I have never seen veterans and coaches fall all over themselves to praise a rookie as they have with Griffin.
A couple weeks ago I asked Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis about the phenomenon.
"I think players respect other players that play hard and are competitive," Rambis said. "They always respect that and they respect a player's nastiness.
"A young player that doesn't back down from older players in a way that's not false bravado. He goes about it in a workmanlike fashion. You don't see him doing any of the other stuff some players do to draw attention to themselves. He just goes out and plays."
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow her on Twitter.