Yes, Blake Griffin can still dunk
Shortly after he signed with the Nets, ESPN’s Malika Andrews asked Blake Griffin whether fans would see any “vintage dunks” from him in Brooklyn.
“I promise you, I still can,” Griffin replied.
It should seem ridiculous to question the dunking ability of a 32-year-old former dunk contest champion, but there was reason to doubt whether Griffin could still attack the rim. He hadn’t dunked in a game since Dec. 12, 2019.
About a month after that final dunk, Griffin underwent surgery on his left knee—which he has had operated on several times since breaking his kneecap on the eve of his rookie season. When he returned to start this season, he was largely ineffective and appeared sapped of the athleticism that made him a No. 1 draft pick. He averaged 12.3 points per game before the Pistons benched him while attempting to find the best way to ship him out of town.
Griffin didn’t look like a superstar in his Nets debut on Sunday, but he did throw down a long-awaited dunk. In the fourth quarter, Griffin got the ball at the top of the key, pump-faked, dribbled past Robin Lopez and put it home with two hands. It wasn’t exactly reminiscent of his days with the “Lob City” Clippers but it was a dunk.
“It felt great. I knew once it happened it was going to be a thing,” Griffin told reporters. “And so I tried not to look at the bench when I was coming back down. But then I kind of peeked over, and I saw DeAndre [Jordan] all the way out on the side, and I saw [everybody] standing up. So it’s hard not to smile in that situation. But it felt good to just get that out of the way and move on.”
Griffin scored only two points and grabbed two rebounds in the game, but Nets coach Steve Nash was happy with what he saw.
“I thought Blake was great,” Nash told reporters. “I don’t think he stuffed the stat sheet, but just his experience, intelligence, made winning plays. In 15 minutes he was a plus-12, so I thought Blake was great, and you can see how he can help us.”
The Nets will be thrilled if Griffin can contribute solid minutes off the bench like that for the rest of the season. Fans, though, will want to see him throw down highlight-reel dunks like he did in Los Angeles. We’ll see if he’s capable of that now that the weight of the dunk-less streak is off his back.
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