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Out of Rockets' spotlight OK with Griffin - chron 8/28

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by BigM, Oct 29, 2002.

  1. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

    Jul 1, 2001
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    Out of Rockets' spotlight OK with Griffin
    Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle
    If you want to make the Rockets' brass scream -- and it is fun -- ask them to imagine their No. 1 pick last season living the life of their No. 1 pick this season.

    They gasp at the thought. So does he.

    Had the Rockets won the NBA draft lottery a year before they did, they insist they still would have chosen Eddie Griffin, the player taken with the seventh choice and acquired that night in 2001 for three first-round picks.

    Griffin, now 20, would have forever been in that exclusive club of being labeled a future star before most could even agree on what position the talented shot blocker was going to play.

    He would have also carried the pressure, attention and expectations that suffocated Kwame Brown of the Wizards. He would have been force-fed a taste of the scrutiny that has been a dragnet for Yao Ming.

    Griffin would have been a reticent teenager being asked to share his thoughts on everything from the Rockets' struggles to his favorite color.

    He watches Yao try to come up with something new to offer -- he had a haircut one day, tried pizza another -- and visibly shudders at the thought he could have been constantly facing the blinding glare of minicams, notebooks and public examination.

    "Every time he gets off the bus, there's a camera in his face, a whole bunch of cameras taking pictures wherever he is," Griffin said about Yao. "There's high expectations for him. They have a song for him at the games and a Yao bear. That's a lot on a person. I don't know how he could handle it. That would be too much for me. I don't think I would like the kind of attention he gets."

    But had Griffin had the platform, and had he been interested in sharing his every thought, there would have been much to say, and still is.

    For all his humility, he intends to lead the league in blocked shots if not this season, then by next. That is just the first part of the plan. From there he has his sights set on replacing Hakeem Olajuwon as the NBA's all-time blocked shots leader.

    He still believes leaving Seton Hall after just one season was the right decision. Griffin not only became at 19 years old the youngest player to ever play for the Rockets but also was younger than Randy Livingston (20 years, seven months) when Livingston began his NBA career with the Rockets.

    Life as a kid in an adult world was often lonely, usually spent alone with video games in hotel rooms.

    He loves Houston and considers it home. He said he enjoys every teammate. But even if he didn't, he believes he has matured far too much to ever come to blows like he did when he slugged teammate Ty Shine at Seton Hall, an act that now seems so far removed from his barely noticeable style to be conceivable.

    Most of all, he would talk about his brother Marvin Powell, who was as outgoing as Griffin is withdrawn. Powell taught Griffin basketball and was a constant source of support until he died of heart disease at age 34 in 2002, just a month before Griffin was drafted.

    Instead, much of a life that Griffin could have laid out for public consumption was kept private, shared in quiet conversations with himself, including the answers he imagined that his brother would have shared.

    "I think about him every day when I'm playing," Griffin said. "I wear his number every day on my shoes. He's a big part of my life, my basketball and off the court. I think about him every day.

    "He was an outspoken guy. He's not like me. He talked a lot. He used to be at all my games. When I was in Philly, he coached me. He was just such a good guy. After every game, I would speak to him. He told me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. I did that from when I was 10-years-old. I miss that. I miss a lot of things. He was a big part of my life. It's still hard. I just have to keep moving on.

    "I still think, if I was to ask him this question, what would he say. He answers a lot of questions in my life. We travel a lot. I don't really hang out with everybody on the team. I just hang out in my room playing (video) games. He was a guy I would have phoned up. It's hard."

    Last season, he would have been able to turn to his brother when he struggled through the first month of the season, came on impressively in January, felt snubbed when he did not make the All-Star rookie team, and finally when he ran into the rookie wall, never quite recovering.

    Griffin averaged 8.8 points per game as a rookie but became increasingly dependent on his 3-point range, making just 36.6 percent of his shots overall. He led the Rockets with 1.84 blocked shots per game and was the first rookie since Olajuwon in 1984-85 to lead the team in that category.

    With 134 blocked shots, he trails Olajuwon's NBA record by 3,606 and at last season's pace would have to play 27 more years to catch Olajuwon. He plans to pick up the pace, and he finished the preseason with consecutive games with seven blocked shots.

    "I'm not Hakeem," Griffin said. "He brought the team two championships, the All-Star games. The blocked shots, I don't really know how many he had, but hopefully I can catch him. That's something I take pride in. It's one thing I think I can do better than a lot of people. That's one of my goals, to take that down and put my name up there.

    "I definitely want to lead the league. That's definitely one of my goals, if not this year the next year and year after that. I definitely feel like I can. I'm looking forward to it.

    "Blocked shots are the best moment. When you block somebody's shot, they get down a little bit. They get hesitant to come in there. You get the crowd into it. It does so much for the team."

    Ben Wallace of Detroit led the NBA last year with 278 blocks, a little more than double Griffin's total.

    In the longer chase of Olajuwon's records, Griffin would have the advantage of starting young. He made the jump, he said, simply because he felt he was ready, and prepared himself for the dues he would have to pay.

    But he promised himself he would not allow his youth to be an excuse. While other players arrive at the NBA so young because their bodies mature ahead of schedule, the 6-10, 220-pound Griffin reached the NBA in a rush because of his skills. He has had to work on improving his strength but said he would not accept his difficulties in the NBA's low-block mosh pit as a reason for failure.

    He always had been the kid on the court, anyway game. Only the courts had changed.

    "My brother used to want me to play in the rec leagues and pickup games with him," Griffin said. "I was like 12 years old and he wanted me to play with grown men. I think that's how I got a lot better.

    "I try not to think about it. If I put in my head that I' younger than these guys out here it probably would hold me back, I probably wouldn't play as hard as I could. I just look at everybody as the same level. Putting the age into it would just mess up my train of thought.

    "When I get bigger and stronger, I'll be able to get position down low better."

    The tougher part of being a teenager in the NBA might have been the adjustment off the court.

    "My rookie year, I was 19," Rockets forward Maurice Taylor said. "It's definitely different. It seems like everything moves faster. You have no time to rest. (Griffin) handled it well. He played great. I don't know a rookie who came into the league without making adjustments. He made his adjustments.

    "Eddie wasn't not so much hanging out with the guys because of his age. Him being who he is, he's going to get into most spots if he wants to hang out. Not too many people are going to stop Eddie Griffin at the door. He wasn't able to because he was tired. Every chance he got, he was asleep. When I was on the road last year, `I'd call him and say, Do you want to go here, do you want to go there?' He'd say, `No, I want to go to sleep.'

    "That's how it is when you're a rookie. 82 games in four or five months is crazy. It takes time to adjust."

    A season later, Griffin said little has changed. But he, Taylor and Cuttino Mobley all used same word to describe his adjustment. Griffin is "comfortable," they say. He smiles more. He enjoys games. He even speaks up more often.

    He might even be able to handle the Yao treatment. He just doesn't want it.

    "That's not for me," he said. "I think everybody realizes I did what I was supposed to do last year. I'm going to try to do what I'm supposed to do this year. If I do, I don't think I'll be overlooked."

    sorry ron, this is your job, but man i am excited about this guy!!!
  2. AroundTheWorld

    AroundTheWorld Insufferable 98er
    Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2000
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    Nice article, but he might have wanted to proofread this part:

    "Griffin not only became at 19 years old the youngest player to ever play for the Rockets but also was younger than Randy Livingston (20 years, seven months) when Livingston began his NBA career with the Rockets."

  3. RocketKid

    RocketKid Member

    Apr 18, 2001
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    Eddie Griffin is my hero. I respect him so much.
  4. rockbox

    rockbox Around before clutchcity.com

    Jul 28, 2000
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    Eddie Griffin was what Cato should have been. Remember when Dream wanted to take Cato under his wing after that monster preseason game? I wish it was Griffin instead because he has the talent and ambition to be one of the best.
  5. shuttle

    shuttle Member

    Jul 25, 2002
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    The Rockets need to get the Dream back in the organization to coach Yao and Eddie. That would be awesome!!!!!!:D :D :D
  6. HoRockets

    HoRockets Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Articles like this are what earns my respect to guys like Eddie G and Yao Ming. I hope they both become known as some of the greatest ever to play the game. :)
  7. Qball

    Qball Contributing Member

    Nov 9, 2001
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    Eddie is one of the few players in the league who play basketball only for the love of the game. Never for the fame or money. If he ever leaves Rockets (highly doubtful) it will be only because he wants to improve his game.
  8. verse

    verse Contributing Member

    Aug 13, 1999
    Likes Received:
    just breaking out the old crystal ball, but i think at some point in the future, the rockets will have to decide if they're going into the future with the present frontcourt (ming/griff) or the present backcourt (francis/mobley). finance, imo, will demand it.

    the decision is all to easy: build around talented big men.
  9. tshi6575

    tshi6575 Member

    Aug 31, 2002
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    Nice to see articles like this on Griffin :)
  10. bsb8532

    bsb8532 Member

    Feb 25, 2002
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    Francis is here for awhile as is Cat. I don't foresee that. We might not break the bank on Ming and EG with Francis' contract unless we're very serious contenders and that could be a factor, but it won't be decided for 2 more years when EG could be a FA.
  11. DCkid

    DCkid Contributing Member

    Oct 15, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Francis: 7 yeasrs/$89 million. They're planning on Francis to be the future, period! That's already set in stone.

    Cato and Rice's contract will be expiring in the next few years. The Maurice Taylor contract is what's going to hurt the most. I think it's too early to say that there is no way the rockets could keep Mobley/Francis/Griffin/Ming together for a long time. We'll just have to wait and see when the times comes. That's not something we should worry about right now.

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