Griffin Taking Oklahoma to California
June 26, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The argument about the greatest basketball player in University of Oklahoma history usually includes three candidates -- Alvan Adams, Wayman Tisdale and Blake Griffin.
Adams and Tisdale both went in the top five of the NBA draft, but neither accomplished what Griffin did Thursday night when he was chosen as the No. 1 overall pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The night later became even better for the Griffin family, as Blake's older brother, Taylor Griffin, went in the second round of the draft to the Phoenix Suns with the 48th overall pick.
Blake Griffin said it was a relief the draft process finally had ended.
"It's great," Blake Griffin told Oklahoma-based reporters on a teleconference after his selection. "I was a little bit speechless at first. For it to finally happen after thinking about it for so long, it's a great feeling."
Griffin, from Oklahoma City, often has said he felt honored being mentioned alongside Adams, who went fourth to Phoenix in the 1975 draft, and the late Tisdale, who went No. 2 overall to the Indiana Pacers in 1985.
Only two other Sooners -- Marcus Freiberger (3rd overall to Indianapolis in 1951) and Garfield Heard (third overall to Seattle in 1970) also went in the draft's top five.
"I'm definitely proud to be from Oklahoma," Griffin said. "Hopefully I will represent my state well."
Griffin is the first No. 1 pick from a current Big 12 Conference school since Danny Manning of Kansas in 1988 and just the second since 1959, when Kansas State's Bob Boozer went No. 1.
One of Griffin's trademarks during his time at Oklahoma was a fierce practice regimen that helped sculpt his powerful 6-foot-10, 251-pound frame. So when he was asked what his plans in the immediate future entailed, the answer came as no surprise to those who had followed him in his home state.
"Hopefully I can get in the gym as soon as possible," he said. "...I'm excited to be able to get in the gym and really start working hard."
Mike Dunleavy, the Clippers' coach and general manager, took note of Griffin's reputation for working out, saying that the team was "getting an incredible player and an incredible person with an impeccable work ethic."
Griffin said he's not worried about the Clippers' woeful history, recalling that Oklahoma was coming off a 16-15 season when he joined the Sooners. Last season, he was the consensus college player of the year as a sophomore, averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game as Oklahoma went 30-6 and reached the round of eight in the NCAA tournament.
"When I committed to OU, people were like, 'Why do you want to go there?' They didn't have the best year, you could say," Griffin said. "But it's not about what happened in the past, but what happens in the future."
Griffin's family -- father Tommy, mother Gail and Taylor -- attended the draft ceremonies held in New York, along with Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. Immediately after Griffin heard his name called by NBA Commissioner David Stern, he hugged them all.
"It's just a dream come true for him, because he's wanted to be in this position and he is," Tommy, a longtime high school coach in Oklahoma, said in an interview with ESPN.
Blake Griffin said he hasn't spent much time in California, although he visited the state in April to pick up the Wooden Award and in recent weeks while working out for the Clippers.
"It's going to be a little different," he said. "I don't think L.A. is much like Oklahoma, but I could get used to it."
Taylor Griffin, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season for the Sooners. He started every game for Oklahoma as a senior after being a part-time starter the previous two seasons.
Oklahoma hadn't had two players taken in the same NBA draft since 1989, when Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock were chosen.
"This is your dream," Taylor Griffin said. "As far as Blake and I being taken in the same draft -- you can imagine maybe playing in college together, but never in a million years did I really imagine both of us being drafted on the same night."