Chris Paul says the only people who hate Blake Griffin are the poor souls he’s dunking on. But if you were watching the March 22 game in New Orleans when Jason Smith, a virtually unknown player to the country at large, completely decked Griffin on the break, no one would’ve batted an eye if Smith came out later and said, “I HATE that dude.” In today’s NBA, that foul was equivalent to the 1984 clothesline of Kurt Rambis.
Thankfully, Smith recently explained himself to SI.com’s Sam Amick, and appeared contrite in his admission that he never meant for it to play out the way it did.
Here are some of the highlights from Smith in their conversation:
“He’s a very smart player. He’s just got to continue to go and be that All-Star-caliber player, to not get frustrated when things like that happen. If you look back at the tapes of how many times Shaq got fouled — oh, man, he got murdered. … It’s one of those things where he has to learn a talent for [tolerating] that, so to speak.”
“My whole thought process was to try to run down the floor and run in front of him, and he’s so quick. He was upright with the ball and I figured I could run in front and maybe he’d lose his balance. He ducked his shoulder, and me — I’m not exactly the most agile of people, and when I get going I can’t really stop. But it is what it is.
“It was not intentional. It was a huge mistake on my part. I’m not trying to hurt anybody by any means. I’m not trying to do anything to Blake Griffin. He’s obviously an amazing player and I have the utmost respect for him.”
Smith says the two of them haven’t spoken since this incident. In the meantime, Griffin has become one of the more controversial players in the league. For all of his highlights and 20/10 games, fans’ complaints about his constant on-court complaining are increasing, while more and more players – like DeMarcus Cousins – are apparently growing tired of his near God-like status. On the other side, Smith has carved out a role for Monty Williams, registering recent 22-point and 26-point, 10-rebound nights, altering fantasy championships along the way.
We won’t need to wait long for another rematch. The two teams play again in Los Angeles a week from Sunday.
Are you buying what he’s saying?
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