LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin has been called a lot of things in his two-year career. Adjectives like special, gifted, powerful, exciting or explosive appear in almost every article about him, and with good reason.
Recently though, he's been hearing something a little less flattering: a showboat. That's what Lakers forward Matt Barnes suggested after the Clippers two exhibition game wins over the Lakers two weeks ago.
Friday night, Griffin answered back.
"I wasn't celebrating," Griffin told ESPNLosAngeles.com after the Clippers 114-101 loss to the Chicago Bulls Friday night. "I think everybody wants to jump on that bandwagon because of what [Barnes] said. But go back and watch that Laker game and tell me where I was celebrating.
"I don't celebrate after dunks. I was calling for a foul. He slapped my arm and I looked at the ref and said that should be a foul."
The topic came up again because of Griffin's reaction following a thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to the Bulls. Griffin rose up and slammed home a one-handed dunk over Bulls center Omer Asik, who appeared to slap his arm on his way to the rim, then stared at the direction of the sideline referee for a few seconds.
After the game Griffin vehemently denied he was celebrating the dunk.
"To the people who think I was celebrating when we're down , I don't even celebrate when we're up," Griffin said. "Name one time you see me pound my chest after a dunk."
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan offered a different theory.
"You guys see how he gets hammered out there," Jordan said. "He gets hammered a lot.
"He gets hacked a lot and they take the ball out and that's it. There's nothing else we can do, he gets hacked they don't call nothing and he still makes it. We just have to move on. "
Later, when asked if Griffin might not be getting as many calls because he's just a second-year player, Jordan said, "You would have to ask them [the referees] that. But I respect his game."
Jordan said he was speaking up for Griffin because he's grown frustrated with the way other teams try to defend his physical teammate.
"You should see him after games. His arms are all cut up, he's got scratches everywhere,'' Jordan told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Teams just hammer him."
Griffin wouldn't comment on the subject directly, saying only, "It's part of the game. Everybody gets fouled out there. It's all good."
Earlier in Friday's game, Griffin was whistled for a technical foul for complaining to the officials.
"I want him to be himself but also recognize how important he is," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Getting a technical foul that early in the game can be difficult at times. But he managed it well. I think he did a very good job in that area and I think he'll improve in that area as he becomes more comfortable with our team, with the refs, with everything that's involved.
"I thought tonight he was a little more emotional than he's been, but he's so competitive I'd rather him be like that and not show his emotion and let it out. He knows he has to control it a little bit, but thats a part of his personality and that's what makes him special too."
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.