The Los Angeles Clippers should assuredly retire No. 32 for longtime star Blake Griffin, who they recently traded to the Detroit Pistons.
In a recent column, we speculated that Elton Brand is the best player to suit up for the organization. But they may be hesitant to recognize him after he infamously left for free agency after recruiting Baron Davis to the team in July 2008.
Even though the franchise does not yet have a retired jersey hanging in their rafters, there is no better player to honor than Griffin. Besides his accolades and success with the team, they don’t have the same nervousness they would with Brand.
When recruiting him to sign a long-term contract extension during the last offseason, Zach Lowe reported that part of their pitch was a mock jersey retirement ceremony for Griffin. Bill Simmons described it as a smart idea because if they lost the asset, he was gone.
Lowe recently had Lee Jenkins on his podcast to discuss the fallouts from the trade. Jenkins speculated that ownership still wants to honor Griffin, saying that he thinks “they want to retire his jersey” and didn’t think it was such a contrived idea.
Jenkins wrote about the legitimate desire to make Griffin a lifelong player for the team (via Sports Illustrated):
“No one in the Clippers offices—especially not [Steve] Ballmer or [Doc] Rivers—wanted to trade Griffin. They wanted to retire his jersey. But they already succumbed to their own sentiment once.”
They can still keep his legacy alive by keeping their word to the five-time NBA All-Star.
Once the dust settles, Griffin deserves credit for his longevity and successes in Los Angeles. He is currently No. 5 in franchise history for rebounds, No. 3 overall in minutes played and No. 2 in total rebounds.
As explained by JA Adande, he is also top in scoring (with the exception of Randy Smith, who did not play in Los Angeles) for the team as well.
He averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game and led the team to six consecutive postseason appearances. He won Rookie of the Year and Slam Dunk Contest Champion in 2011.
Most importantly, he defined an era of success for the Clippers that will be recalled with mostly fond memories.