Friday, February 18, 2011

Spotlight For NBA All-Star Weekend In LA Will Be On A Clipper, Not A Laker

It’s that time of the year again where the NBA’s most talented will showcase their skills to the world for one weekend. The city of Los Angeles will host this year’s All-Star festivities that kicks off tonight.

Although the Staples Center is more known as the home of the Lakers, this year’s big weekend will focus on a player who plays on that very same court but sports a different color jersey than the usual yellow and purple.

That man is this season’s new sensation and is taking the public’s breath away after each game: the Los Angeles Clippers’ high flying power forward Blake Griffin.

He will be the only player that will be involved in at least one component for each day of the weekend. Griffin will be one of the headliners for the Rookie/Sophomore game, a favorite for the Slam Dunk challenge, and a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team.

It’s truly amazing how the first few years have unfolded for the former Oklahoma Sooner. After being drafted first overall by the Clippers, Griffin suffered a huge setback by hurting his knee in the preseason. This injury forced him to be a spectator for his first season in the NBA and a forgotten entity as an unproven rookie prior to entering the 2010-11 campaign.

Now it is the defense that wishes he was still an unknown as he has been a dizzying head case, flying by his opposition with rim-rocking dunks and finishing off ally-oops. His continuous highlight real plays have been plastered all over SportsCenter and that ability is the main reason why he will be the biggest draw over any Laker this weekend.

It is shocking to think that Griffin will be a bigger draw than Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, mainly due to their team’s performances up until the break. The Clippers are the third worst team in the West and would not even qualify for the playoffs at this point. The Lakers are third best team in the West and are a strong favorite to win their third straight title.

Yet, it’ll still be all about Griffin from Friday to Sunday.

The spotlight shinning on him will be a new vision in comparison to what is commonly popular at the Staples Center. Bryant is undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the league and has been for over a decade now. He is a consistent name that pops up in every debate about who the best player in the league and sets the bar for greatness in the NBA.

The “Black Mamba” though will be taking a back seat this weekend as Griffin’s every move will have the public’s eyes stuck to their high definition, flat screen televisions.
This is due mainly to his unique ability that has captured the public’s attention: dunking.

During the Rookie Challenge, the high-speed, high-octane guard John Wall will keep his eyes open to throw lobs in the direction of Griffin as often as possible. The first pick of the 2010 draft loves to be on the passing end of climactic plays and will have the first pick of the 2009 draft and the best finisher in the NBA completing those highlight alley-oop tosses.

He will then be the centerpiece of the Skills Challenge as he tries to resurrect the luster and attraction of the Slam Dunk contest. Recently many unknown, young stars have been participants of this event. This has lowered the standard of the exhibition and the buzz it builds in the days prior. Griffin will hope to inspire other great stars to bring this event back for the future, as he will put on display his creativity and unique jumping ability before millions of viewers.

Finally, in the Sunday All-Star game, he will become the first rookie to be a part of the game since Tim Duncan was selected back in 1998. He will be a breath of fresh air, along with fellow youngsters and first timers Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, to an event that’s been dominated by the usual, multiple selection stars like Bryant, Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. He will try to show that he is more than a high-flying acrobat against some of the greatest players in the league.

Staples Center will be jumping and bubbling with excitement when the Celebrity Game kicks off as the opening event for the next three days. For a stadium that features banner after banner of Lakers championships, it will be a lone Clipper that will be the center of attention for the 2011 All-Star weekend.

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