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SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers thinks that for his team to achieve its goals this season, Blake Griffin must develop into a leader.
Rivers won't force leadership roles on any of his players, but the first-year Clippers coach believes Griffin can and will naturally grow into one.
I told him he never has to be a vocal leader but he has been talking. He's been phenomenal. I told him you don't need to say a word if you just do it, but he's done both.” -- Doc Rivers on Blake Griffin
"That's a choice that leaders make or don't make," Rivers said. "Some people don't want to be leaders. Some people can't lead and some people just haven't led. I think Blake is the latter, where he's becoming a better leader. What we're telling Blake is that Vince Lombardi quote: Leadership isn't a sometimes thing; it's an all-the-time thing. You can't pick and choose when to be a leader. If you're going to be the leader, you're going to be the leader all the time."
Griffin said he has become more comfortable taking on a leadership role as he enters his fourth season in the league, having made the All-Star Game in his first three seasons and playing in the postseason the past two years.
"You can be a leader in so many different ways," Griffin said. "Some guys are more vocal. Some guys like to talk through things. Some guys lead by example. Sometimes there's a guy who doesn't say much but when he does speak it's important. I'm not really the type to come out and say a whole lot during practice. I'll say things to younger guys. Knowing when to accept knowledge and when to give it is a big thing."
Griffin understands that Chris Paul is the natural leader of the team as the point guard on the court and almost an extension of the coaching staff on the bench, but the Clippers forward also knows he has to assume some of that responsibility this season.
"Guys who play the bulk of the minutes need to be the leaders," Griffin said. "CP and myself are going to play most of the minutes. This is my fourth year, and it's a thing I need to step into every year and take a step forward. I'm not ever one of those guys that's going to yell at guys, but it's about helping them out."
Rivers said he has been impressed with Griffin during the Clippers' four-day training camp on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, where Griffin has shown an improved midrange game.
"He's been great," Rivers said. "He's been absolutely wonderful. He's shooting the ball well, he's playing hard, he's getting to the next play. He's been great. ... I told him he never has to be a vocal leader but he has been talking. He's been phenomenal. I told him you don't need to say a word if you just do it, but he's done both.
"At the end of the day, it'll be his play. You can be a great leader and not a good player, but that doesn't do anything for us. He's young, so every year he's going to get better."