BLAKE Griffin said new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has given the team a ‘different vibe’ in his first year at the helm.
The All-Star forward said Ballmer gives the team a breath of fresh air after the former CEO of Microsoft purchased the team recently from the controversial Donald Sterling.
“It’s great to have an owner who’s so involved and so enthusiastic about winning. Not just winning, but treating people the right way, and making sure that everybody’s taken care of,” said Griffin in a conference call with Asian sports journalists recently which included Spin.ph.
Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers franchise last year following his racist comments about her girlfriend that led to his lifetime ban from the NBA.
The impact of the new ownership is definitely being felt by the Clippers, according to Griffin, who was among those who failed to make it to the country following the aborted ‘Last Home Stand’cage event six months ago featuring Gilas Pilipinas against a select group of NBA players.
“It’s a different atmosphere, and I think everybody can see that. From top to bottom, I just think it’s a different vibe.
“He kind of gave the franchise a bit of hope and a little fresh taste of everything,” said the one-time slam dunk champion.
Currently the second-leading vote-getter in the Western Conference for the coming All-Star Game in New York, Griffin related how the persona of Ballmer has energized the team.
“I haven’t seen him, to this day, run out of energy. He’s got that same level of energy that I think everybody else sees, and it felt so fun to be on the court and to hear him.
“You know, when DeAndre (Jordan) gets a dunk or a big play happens, it’s cool to see your owner there every game screaming just as loud as every other fan,” he added.
Meanwhile, Griffin is also happy to be part of the Clippers’ transition from the league’s laughing stock to one of the best teams in the NBA today.
Times indeed, has changed for the Clippers that they’re now even eclipsing their more popular cross-town rivals, the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
“Just to be a part of it, the change of the franchise, you’re not only matching up head-to-head with the Lakers, but just being a franchise that’s capable of winning and being in the playoffs year in and year out, I’m proud to be a part of that. There’s nothing better than being a part of something bigger than just yourself,” said the 25-year-old former University of Oklahoma superstar.
Still, Griffin has nothing but utmost respect for the Lakers despite the hard times the franchise is currently undergoing.
“You know, the Lakers will always be the Lakers, and they have tons of history and tons of championships and all that. We’re not trying to take any of that away, we’re just trying to make a name for ourselves and I’m proud to be a part of this era of Clippers basketball,” Griffin said.