A short time after Oklahoma's Blake Griffin returned from a concussion, he was diving over a scorer's table in pursuit of a loose ball, the kind of move that makes anyone watching appreciate what was a moment of genuine, bold effort.
It happened against Texas Tech on Saturday. After Griffin splashed down in the stands like an old lunar module into the ocean, even some Texas Tech fans stood and applauded. In the first half of that game, Griffin also landed hard on his back while wrestling for a rebound.
|Blake Griffin has dealt with his share of floor burns during his two seasons at Oklahoma. (Getty Images)|
This leads to a few questions.
Where is the media saying Griffin is the grittiest player in the history of grit?
Why isn't Griffin on the cover of every national magazine in the country?
Why aren't we seeing constant replays on television of Griffin diving onto the floor or scrambling for loose balls, which Griffin seems to do every time he's in a game?
Why aren't we seeing Griffin's bloodied face over and over and over again?
Why isn't Dick Vitale having his heart palpitations over Griffin? Why isn't he calling Griffin the hardest-working player ever? Why isn't Vitale beating us over the head with how Griffin possesses the greatest work ethic in human history? Why isn't Vitale claiming we haven't seen a work ethic like this since the Americans stormed Normandy? Since Cro-Magnon invented fire? Since a masked Jason hit Camp Crystal Lake? Since the first Soul Train dance line? Since God created the universe?
Because didn't we hear all of that last year with Tyler Hansbrough? And I mean all of it from every corner of the media.
Well, didn't we?
If there is anything that proves Hansbrough, while a good player, is one of the greatest media creations in college basketball history, it's the play of Griffin, who has been every bit as intense and gritty and nightmare-fueled this season as Hansbrough was last year, but has gotten a fraction of the press and appreciation.
Griffin is Hansbrough. They're the exact same player except that Griffin is more NBA-ready.
In fact, Griffin's toughness and grit might surpass even Hansbrough's. Diving over that table post-concussion for a loose ball in a regular season game was impressive.
It's something that if Hansbrough did, it would lead the evening news. It would be Hansbrough, and then a story about AIG. There would be Beowulf-like odes sung in Hansbrough's honor.
As March insanity approaches, it seems the media has forgotten to anoint Griffin the new hustle-and-flow king the way it did Hansbrough last year.
Must have just slipped everyone's minds.
Sure it did.
sportsdvl: It's a race thing. Sometimes, we just need to come out and call it what it is.
Did the media and fans just decide out of the blue one day to arbitrarily perceive Griffin's abilities as being genetic and Hansbrough's as being the result of hard work? That is highly unlikely.
Deeply entrenched stereotypes have strong influence over people's expectations. The world of sports is not immune to these effects. Sometime in our lives, many of us have been guilty of harboring stereotypes such as the assumption that blacks are naturally gifted when it comes to athletics, and that whites are not. As a result, the talent of a white athlete is generally attributed to his hard work while the talent of a black athlete is merely a standard product of his genetic make-up...
|Mike Freeman: Your post is one of the more well thought out and reasonable I've ever seen on these message boards. You should be commended. Any interest in replacing Doyel?|
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The Sooners are highly ranked, just as North Carolina was this time last season. Griffin is the centerpiece of his team, just as Hansbrough was last year. The main part of Griffin's game is his heart and energy, just like Hansbrough. Griffin is a good dude, just like Hansbrough. The only difference is there are few tales in the media of Griffin's mythic and vibrant heart muscle the way the nation was flooded with stories of Hansbrough's gigantic cojones.
You want grit? Griffin is part Tim Tebow, part Allen Iverson (before he got old) and part T.J. Houshmandzadeh, with the basketball IQ of Bill Walton.
But because many media and fans think Griffin's abilities are genetic and Hansbrough's aren't, Hansbrough is viewed as a hard-working human cyborg whose chin never met a hardwood floor it didn't like.
Griffin? Well, don't you know, he's supposed to do all that.
Please, calm down everyone. This is a grown-up conversation we're now having. If you want simplicity and narrow-mindedness, please proceed to the message board below. If you don't, read on.
I understand there is one significant difference in that Hansbrough plays in the ACC, which generates far more media attention than does the bantamweight Big 12.
But that doesn't come close to explaining the disparity in praise. It's particularly unforgivable from experts in the media like Vitale, who should have known that they were overstating Hansbrough's impact and grit.
Soon after the concussion Griffin wanted to play, but wasn't allowed immediately back by coaches and medical personnel. It was the kind of selfless request that should've endeared Griffin to the nation the way such a thing would have endeared Hansbrough even more. But nationally there was very little mention of Griffin's desire.
One of the few people not on Oklahoma's staff to recognize Griffin's work ethic was Texas Tech coach Pat Knight. On Feb. 14, after Griffin took Knight's team and single-handedly bent it over his knee, Knight called Griffin "The Terminator."
"Have you guys ever seen the movie The Terminator?" Knight asked the media. "That's what that kid is like. That kid has no facial expressions. He just plays and it's like every kid out there on him is like Sarah Connor, and he's just going to take his time and kill 'em."
Blake Griffin: Made by Cyberdyne.
Knight's comment came after Griffin had 40 points and 23 rebounds against Texas Tech.
Forty and 23.
Those kinds of nights no longer seem all that unusual for the Terminator, even if recognition for his work ethic and grittiness is.