Blake Griffin is Los Angeles Clippers' New Leader By Default

By christopherbrown
Chris Humphreys USA TODAY Sport

The timing of Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul‘s injury could have only been better if he hadn’t gotten hurt at all. Injuries happen, and when that number is called your best bet is to cross your fingers, bite down on something soft and pray that the tingling you’re feeling is your ego having the last laugh.

Somewhere among the collective breath of Clipper fans as Paul fell (tripped) to the floor against the Dallas Mavericks, an optimistic mumbling of someone with the uncanny ability to assess the situation a millisecond before a bead of Paul’s sweat touched the wood realizes “this is the best thing that could have happened to Blake Griffin“.

When Griffin walked towards the podium as the first player to shake hands with former league commissioner David Stern at the 2009 NBA Draft, there was one thing for certain: He was a Clipper, and he wouldn’t be walking for long. To say that he took the league by storm would be an implication better suited for a blander, less spectacular and higher level draftee likely to be in the midst of his 15-minutes of fame. Griffin owned the league his first day on the job. He did it with a soft demeanor and ferocious basketball disposition.

The Clippers were being hailed as the “Blake Show,” a perfect moniker for a team still searching for their identity. Soon the Clippers’ recognition expanded outside of their own homes, and for a very brief moment during the 2011 All-Star game, Blake and the Clippers were even able to make a Kia cool.

Griffin’s emergence was only the start of something that never happens for anyone who cheers for the red and blue team in Los Angeles. The Clipper brain trust, along with a short list of powers-that-be, delivered Paul to the organization. The “Blake Show” couldn’t ask for a better conductor. Yet, while Paul ran the break, the fans, team and their identity followed close behind while Griffin was fast becoming the middle child in the Clipper family.

Griffin didn’t regress as a player; the organization started to ascend. The league had taken notice that there was indeed another team paying rent at the Staples Center. Off the court it makes for a more freebies and better dinning options, although lanes to the basket were closing on the floor.

Griffin was only comfortable doing what players around the league had begun to take away, and that got exposed nationally when the Clippers were on the driving range during the second round of last year’s playoffs.

Griffin had to get better, and he spent the entire offseason doing just that. But aside from be being a better perimeter player, Griffin had to learn lead with presence of born leader alongside him.  Griffin handed the keys to the team to Paul before was assigned a locker. Griffin is as reluctant to controversy as he was to an open jump-shot. He was constantly being compared to Paul which is an unfair comparison for someone who simply wants to play basketball.

For the Clippers to have a legitimate chance at hanging a banner in the rafters, Griffin would have to share the leadership role with his point guard. Due to a separated shoulders suffered by Paul that will have the league’s assist leader out until after the All-Star break, Griffin has no choice but to take what belong to him three seasons ago.

ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for Follow Him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like Him on Facebook.

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