In his first public comments since his fistfight with a team staffer at a Toronto restaurant last month, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin met with reporters on Tuesday and proclaimed himself "truly, truly sorry" for the actions that left him with a broken shooting hand, left Clippers assistant equipment manager Matias Testi with facial injuries, and resulted in a four-game suspension for "conduct [that] has no place in the Clippers organization."
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You can watch Griffin's media session above; below, a transcript of his relevant remarks:
I just want to say that I have had a lot of time to reflect, and that I am very truly, truly sorry for what happened. It was a situation between two friends that kind of got out of hand and I exercised poor judgment. I have spoken to Matias about it. I have spoken to my teammates about it, coaches. The last people to apologize to are the fans and to show them how sorry I am for this situation.
It is something that I feel awful about. It is something that I have not had to deal with ever before in life, and it has been tough. Now that the NBA has done their due diligence, and the Clippers, and I have my punishment, I am looking forward to just moving on and moving past this and getting back on the court with my teammates. [...]
It was a situation, like I said, between two friends that escalated and again, I exercised poor judgment. It is something that I think about every day and wish I could take it back and I have told Matias that. It is one of those things that you cannot take back, so now I am focused on moving forward and doing the best I can from here on out.
[The last three weeks have] been tough. Like I said, this is not something that I have ever had to deal with and not a position that I have ever been in, so it has been tough to know that I let my teammates down, let our organization down and let the fans down, let my family down, all of that. That has probably been the hardest part. Like I said, now that everything is kind of out there and I know my punishment, I am looking forward to kind of just moving forward now. [...]
I have talked to Matias tons of times since the incident. He actually said it best: "Stuff happens. We are like brothers and we just have to move on."
Moving on, as a practical matter, is still easier said than done, considering Griffin's still weeks away from being cleared to return after two surgical procedures on his broken shooting hand. Moreover, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the first injury to sideline Griffin — the partially torn left quadriceps tendon that he suffered during the Clips' Christmas Day win over the Los Angeles Lakers — still isn't 100 percent healed, nearly two months later.
That wasn't all Doc said Tuesday, two days before the NBA's Feb. 18 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. More from Woike:
“I’ve told you we’re not trading Blake,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “But I guess everyone else wants to keep doing that, so we’ll let them do it. Not from us at all.”
“ ... It is what it is, nothing we can do about it. Obviously, it frustrates you when you know nothing’s going on, but what can you do?”
And from Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
"I think Blake and his people know what's going on," Rivers said. "I think it's affected ESPN and all the talk shows, hopefully giving them ratings if that's what they're looking for."
Rivers' denials come in response to multiple reports that Griffin, a 26-year-old five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, has moved from "untouchable" to "we'll listen" in trade talks. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported earlier this month that the Clips could look to move Griffin this summer; subsequent reports suggested that timetable had accelerated, with the Clippers reportedly engaging clubs in conversations centered on Griffin.
The Clippers have denied the Griffin chatter, with Rivers leading the way, but ESPN.com's Zach Lowe reported Tuesday that "the Clips are listening" to Griffin offers, which represents a shift. As USA TODAY's Sam Amick puts it, "The mere fact the Clippers were even remotely open to trading Griffin, that this became a topic of conversation not only in the media but also among rival teams and their executives, speaks volumes about how things have changed the past seven weeks."
After sitting at 17-13 at the time of Griffin's injury, the Clippers have gone going 18-5 since he went down, ranking in the top five in the NBA in both points scored per possession and points allowed per possession, thanks to brilliant play from the likes of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan. Whenever Griffin's able to return — both he and Testi are reportedly expected to be with the Clippers for the team's Thursday meeting with the San Antonio Spurs — Rivers will have to find a way to reintegrate one of the game's most talented players while knocking off months of rust without upsetting the two-way chemistry that the Clips have found in Griffin's absence. It's a daunting task, but evidently, not as daunting to Doc as trying to win a title without Blake in the fold.
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