A lockout could kill the NBA for a while, and to win back America, it'll need a thriller. Not Kobe's silent efficiency, or Dwight's restrained excellence. It'll need video game-spectacular guys like Blake Griffin, who built a poster factory the other night.
Late Saturday evening, I sat around at home watching the Knicks and Clippers, because I'm a loser, you see. (Still cooler than Katie Bakes!) Why bother with a West Coast game featuring two teams whose combined record is not many-a lot? Blake Griffin's delayed rookie year, that's why.
He's listed at 6'10", but he's not 6'10". But I'm willing to entertain the fact that this isn't the NBA's usual height exaggeration, but rather they're forced to estimate because he's never stood still in his life. Griffin's is the kind of pure, freakish athleticism we haven't seen from a prospect since LeBron came out, and he is easily the most exciting rookie to watch in as many years.
Maybe he's stuck toiling away on the Clippers, and that's why I hadn't noticed just how dominant he can be in spurts, even against NBA competition. Or maybe the Knicks "no-D" D brings out the best in him. But Saturday night was eye-opening for me, and for the pair of tall Europeans he dunked over.
Maybe the last one over Danilo Gallinari could have been an offensive foul (not that they'd ever dare call that), and maybe he's not in a great hurry to get back on defense (though he's still averaging 11 rpg), and maybe his jump shot is a little lacking (though not enough to stop him from going for 44 on Saturday). But god damn if he isn't a rollicking dynamo out there, and would be appointment television if he weren't trapped on the Clips.
So let's say there's a lockout next year. It could get super ugly, and the NBA doesn't have the cultural cache of baseball where Congress will try and get involved in getting them back to work. Let's say it lasts a year. By the time the league is back, the novelty of the Heat will have worn off. Kidd, Nash, Dirk, Duncan et al. will have called it quits or be on the downward slope. The league will need a new cadre of superstars to recapture the casual fan's eyeballs. I can't think of anyone better suited for the job than Blake Griffin, coming soon to a video game cover near you.