Ex-Oklahoma coach Capel's defense of Blake Griffin refreshing

Jeff Capel spoke up on behalf of his former player and why players take too much grief. (USATSI)
Jeff Capel spoke up on behalf of his former player and why players take too much grief. (USATSI)

Jeff Capel recruited Blake Griffin to Oklahoma, coached him for two years, helped develop him into the top overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft and still values the bond created. Also: Capel is tired of hearing people call his best former player "soft." This was obvious in a Twitter rant Monday afternoon.

Here is the text from that Twitter rant:

Blake Griffin soft? That's an absolute JOKE!!! There are definitely things he needs to improve on with his game. He'd be the 1st to admit that. But calling him soft? What a crock! Bc he doesn't retaliate? What was the Clippers record b4 he got there? If he retaliates and gets suspended, does that not hurt the team? It's not like they have a history of winning! He will continue to use this negativity to get better and become the player I know he can be."

This was interesting on multiple levels.

For starters, it's an example of an active college coach -- Capel is now an assistant at Duke -- publicly defending a former player in a pretty strong way, and that's cool and rare. But it also raises a larger question, and that question is this: Why are people so quick to, for lack of a better word, hate on almost everybody?

Griffin is a great example.

He just completed his third season with a historically bad franchise, and he's now averaging 20.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in his career. He was the National Player of the Year at Oklahoma in 2009. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year with Los Angeles in 2011. He's made the All-NBA second team twice, been an NBA All-Star three times and helped the Clippers become relevant. And yet many still focus on what Griffin can't do.

Some say he isn't skilled enough.

Or dynamic enough.

Or, as Capel noted, tough enough.

And perhaps some of that is true. We can debate another day. But I can't help but wonder why more people don't choose to focus on what Griffin is rather than what he isn't? Because what Griffin is is a 24-year-old three-time NBA All-Star with a good reputation off the court. He's a decent dude who is also a wildly accomplished basketball player for somebody his age, and he's won big (relative to the history of his teams) at both the college and professional level.

And this is the guy we're nitpicking?

Same thing is happening to LeBron James right now, by the way. Yes, I think it's kind of disappointing that the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player is on the verge of elimination in these NBA Finals, that he and his teammates haven't handled this postseason a little more easily. But James and the Heat are still favored to win the title, according to Sportsbook.com. And, if they do, James will then be a four-time MVP and two-time champion at the age of 28.

Michael Jordan was a two-time MVP and one-time champion at the age of 28.

But you'd never know that from monitoring Twitter.

Folks are too focused on what James isn't.

Perspective be damned.

This stuff also happens at the college level, and Andrew Wiggins will almost certainly be a victim of it next season. What will folks say when the heralded recruit only scores 16 points in his Kansas debut? What if he doesn't dunk on somebody every single possession? The overrated chants will be everywhere, and they'll be loud. Because, for whatever reason, people seem to have more fun highlighting warts on elite talents than they do celebrating their positives, and it's weird how we don't even realize it anymore until somebody like Jeff Capel decides to offer a reality check via social media.

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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