Pistons’ Griffin finally feels truly appreciated

Power forward Blake Griffin of the Pistons is having a banner (and somewhat underrated) season.

Even though he entered the NBA nine years ago as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Blake Griffin admits he heard much of the criticism naysayers offered about his game.

“Being a rookie, or my second year and third year, all I heard was how I wasn’t a good basketball player,” Griffin told ESPN of his early days with the Los Angeles Clippers. “I heard it from so many people for so long that I became — I wouldn’t say jaded because I know who I am as a basketball player — but I hear that and I’m just like, ‘That person doesn’t know basketball.’”

Now enjoying the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 25.1 points along with 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game as a member of the Detroit Pistons, Griffin feels he’s finally being recognized for being more than a high-flying bucket dive-bomber.

“This is the first year I really feel like I’ve gotten a little bit of credit for that from a larger group,” the five-time All-Star said. “I truly feel like that.”

Playing in Detroit as opposed to the glitz of Los Angeles has agreed with Griffin, an Oklahoma City native, though he doesn’t seem to be concerned about relevance. He was acquired by the Pistons from the Clippers on Jan. 29, 2018.

“To me, ‘relevance’ — it’s a popularity contest,” Griffin said, putting relevance in air quotes with his hands. “It’s not really my thing. To me, there’s all this jockeying for ‘relevance’ right now, then it starts to get a little more real with the playoff race.

“Once you get to the playoffs — if you make it, you’re relevant, whether you’re the 8-seed or the 1-seed because you’re playing playoff basketball.”