Blake Griffin: Pregame routine not a Ballmer snub

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Detroit Pistons' Blake Griffin waves to fans of his former team during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday.

Los Angeles — Blake Griffin is a creature of habit when it comes to his pregame routine.

When he finishes his shooting drills, he doesn’t deviate, with a dead sprint to the Pistons locker room. It holds true — home or away.

In Saturday’s ballyhooed matchup against his former team, the Clippers, he showed how much he sticks to his regimen.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer was looking to greet Griffin — but it didn’t go quite the way he envisioned. Ballmer was left hanging, but Griffin, in his postgame media session, said it wasn’t an intentional slight; rather, he was sticking to what he normally does.

“For nine years now, as soon as I’m done with my pregame shooting, I make sure there’s a path and I take off running to the locker room and don’t stop running,” Griffin explained. “A lot of you know that a lot of you have been here for a long time and have seen me do that before. I don’t change that for anybody.”

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Griffin was annoyed with a Los Angeles reporter who tweeted a description of the exchange as if Griffin intentionally avoided Ballmer and made it bigger than it was.

“To tweet out something like that, like what you did was kind of (crap) — because you know that,” Griffin seethed. “That’s what it was, plain and simple. It wasn’t anything planned. Every single game, I’ve done this for I don’t know how long.”

There’s some history there, though.

When Ballmer decided to trade Griffin to the Pistons last January, the team didn’t communicate with Griffin, presumably looking to keep the deal under wraps until it was completed.

Griffin said last week that he wasn’t angered at the trade — understanding the business of professional sports — as much as he was at how it was done, with the lack of communication.

Griffin was later asked about whether he would shake Ballmer’s hand if he weren’t in the middle of pregame routine.

The response: “I’m honestly not here to answer hypothetical questions.”

He also said that there’s no need to mend fences with Clippers coach Doc Rivers because he’s not Griffin’s coach anymore.

While Griffin had a good reception from fans during the pregame introduction and during a timeout where the Clippers showed a tribute video on the big scoreboard, there wasn’t the same warm reception for members of the front office.

The thank-you video did stick out for Griffin as a good memory.

“I didn’t see all of it, but I saw bits and pieces,” he said. “It was really cool. To be welcomed back like that means a lot and I appreciate all these fans here.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard