Blake Griffin’s Rookie of the Year press conference was held Thursday afternoon as Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey spoke about the 22-year-old before a T-Mobile executive awarded him his trophy.
The voice of the Clippers, Ralph Lawler, introduced those in attendance including Griffin’s parents, agents and the last Clippers Rookie of the Year, Terry Cummings, as well as a contingent of season ticket holders. Griffin’s brother, Taylor, wasn’t in attendance as his European team is still playing out its season.
Griffin led all rookies, and the Clippers, this season with 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 63 double-doubles. Interestingly, he was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. According to the NBA’s press release, Griffin became the first rookie to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Elton Brand in 1999-2000 and was only the fourth rookie to total at least 1,600 points, 900 rebounds and 250 assists, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70), Elgin Baylor (1958-59) and Sidney Wicks (1971-72).
Del Negro opened his comments at the press conference by mentioning that he had Thursday’s date circled on his calendar ever since the first day he walked into practice and watched him play.
In his acceptance speech, Griffin thanked God for the ability to play basketball, his parents for everything they instilled in him and the values they taught him, his agents, his teammates that helped in a year “full of ups and downs” and also the entire coaching staff — including the video guys, trainers and strength coaches — as they all were incredible in getting him back into shape and at full strength.
Comedian Norm MacDonald was also in attendance, asking perhaps the most interesting question during the press conference when he told Griffin about a seeming curse on the past Rookie of the Years as no one has ever repeated earning the honor. Griffin responded to the comedian by saying he'd do his best in trying to repeat next year.