Until Blake Griffin returns from his gnarly-looking broken hand, no one’s going to talk about much except for how he got it: By punching a Los Angeles Clippers equipment manager in the face. As the fallout continues, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer promised to the Los Angeles Times that he would be laying down some form of punishment for the incident.
Ballmer said that the Clippers were investigating the incident separately from the NBA, adding, “There needs to be consequences. It’s the right thing to do.”
A situation like Blake’s is a rare one — not since sports were subsumed by social media and the 24-hour news cycle has there been such a serious infighting incident in the NBA, so both the NBA and the Clippers are in uncharted waters. It’s not as simple as a punch thrown on the court between opponents because, by all accounts, the incident was the result of a fight between friends. Some might say that the time Griffin will miss waiting for his hand to heal is punishment enough, but the perception of the situation seems to demand that the authorities take action.
In order to maintain their own (extremely high) self-regard, the NBA and the Clippers must project the image that they are in control of their employees — that some level of virtue is added to a person thanks to his association with such noble enterprises. Everyone, even Steve Ballmer, knows that the reality is that Blake is still young, but very much an adult who makes his own choices, stupid as they may be. Those “consequences” that Ballmer says need to occur have already happened naturally, with Griffin’s name and personal brand taking major hits in the public eye. That’s always been the price of being stupid: Now people know you’re capable of such stupidity.
But it’s hard to blame Ballmer, really. He’s the owner of the Clippers, and the team’s name pops up in every lede written about the punching incident. The right PR move is to make sure everyone knows he disapproves of violence, and there’s only one way for Ballmer to put his money where his mouth is in this case. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier to determine just how to punish Blake, but one thing’s for certain: He’s going to upset a bunch of people no matter how he handles it.
(Via Los Angeles Times)