Clippers star Blake Griffin has a broken hand. He and Matias Testi, the equipment manager for the Clippers, got into a fight while eating at a Toronto restaurant. Something made Griffin angry enough to haul off and hit the equipment manager in the restaurant, and then hit him again when they were outside, multiple times, according to ESPN. It’s unclear if Testi, who was described by USA Today as a long time Griffin friend and someone who “banters back and forth”, got his own punches in, nor is it clear what precipitated the set of events that roiled through the Clippers organization.
When reporting about the incident, ESPN’s Chris Broussard made note of the fact that Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Testi, all friends, were out at a Toronto eatery. According to Broussard, Testi began verbally challenging Griffin and that began the onslaught. Broussard used the word “pummeled” in describing the equipment manager’s face which was injured.
The L.A. Times reported that Testi’s face was swollen but no broken bones. He is back in Los Angeles. So is Griffin.
Blake Griffin released an apology, late Tuesday night.
“A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about. I want to apologize to the Clippers organization, my teammates and the fans for creating a distraction. I am working with the team on a resolution and getting back in the game as soon as possible.”
The victim in the incident, Matias Testi, didn’t get a public apology from Griffin even as his name was dragged through the social media mud and his face distorted because of Griffin’s fists. Note to Griffin: violence is more than a distraction.
The Clippers are in the midst of a five game road trip with one game left before they play the Lakers on Friday night. Tomorrow they are in Atlanta.
The situation that Griffin finds himself in is ironic. Griffin won’t retaliate on the court when he is the victim of cheap fouls, whether he is hit in the face or hit in the head or pushed in the back. Not once does he strike back. But he’ll punch the equipment manager multiple times.
Blake Griffin was having a MVP season (23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 23.4 PER) before he tore his quadriceps and was sidelined. He was hoping to make an appearance soon, if not during this current road trip, then a few days after. His broken hand will keep him sidelined when the Clippers have their toughest opponents in the next 30 days. They play the Pacers, Hawks, Bulls, Heat, Spurs, Warriors. That’s on the light side of the recovery/games missed timetable. Griffin may miss both games against the Thunder in the beginning of March. The timing is bad.
Doc Rivers isn’t so sure it is a 4-6 week injury. “I always say, four to six weeks with a broken hand is unrealistic. I’ll tell you that.”
Recently, the Clippers have been using Cole Aldrich. They already moved Josh Smith back to Houston. Their front court is paper thin.
The Clippers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, particularly on the offensive end. Another few weeks without Griffin, against talented and quality opponents, is going to be another Doc Rivers headache. Since he came to Los Angeles from Boston, it’s been one Doc Rivers crises after another.
Of these current events, Rivers wasn’t pleased.
“I’m not satisfied with anything. I’m talking about a non-basketball issue right now. You talk to everyone involved and you care about everyone involved. I feel bad for everyone involved, not just the player.”
This isn’t going to go away any time soon. The NBA has a role to play here. They have an investigation to complete and if the ESPN reports are corroborated, particularly the “multiple punches”, then a punishment is in order. Griffin is one of the NBA’s most dynamic stars. The NBA punishes impulsive behavior that leads to violence, regardless of remorse or star power. If the NBA suspended Matt Barnes two games for hitting Derek Fisher when the season had not started, what is in store for Blake Griffin? Matt Barnes was not a number one draft pick. He was not an All-Star, nor was he the face of the franchise, playing in the second largest media market in the country.
A 5 game suspension tacked on to 4-6 weeks of recovery time? Things just got worse for the Clippers.
In 2014, Griffin was accused of slapping a man and grabbing his cell phone in Vegas. The charge was eventually dropped.
All the social media jokes of it’s the Clippers being the Clippers are filling everyone’s timeline right about now. But there is a man out there with a swollen and bruised face.
photo via llananba