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Determining Blake Griffin’s impact in Detroit on the one-year anniversary of the trade

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Blake Griffin’s influence probably goes further than you think.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been exactly one year since “Clipper for life” Blake Griffin had his life flipped upside down and inside out. On January 29th, 2018, Griffin and then Los Angeles teammates Brice Johnson and Willie Reed were hastily shipped to Detroit in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a first-round 2018 draft pick and a second-round 2019 draft pick. The high-profile swap caught the entire league by surprise, including the man in the middle:

The late-January “it’s just business” Los Angeles to Detroit move cost Griffin peace of mind regarding his basketball future, the only professional address he’s ever known, and about 40 degrees of warmer weather.

If you were a Pistons fan at the time of the deal, odds are, your initial stance on the trade probably included variations of:

  • It was a desperate move by a short-sighted franchise.
  • He’s going to hate Detroit and demand a trade.
  • His best days are long gone and his contract is way too big.
  • Griffin and Andre Drummond cannot fit together on the same court, this isn’t 1997.
  • Countless always-injured “jokes.”

It’s important to understand that the decade-long ineptness of the organization’s decision-makers, prior to Griffin’s arrival, help to fuel and shape the collective skepticism. In short, there wasn’t much along the lines of Pistons’ positivity. Nevertheless, Griffin was on a flight he didn’t ask to be on, and headed to a city who didn’t ask for his services.

On February 1st, 2018, the Pistons’ Blake Griffin-era began with a 104-102 home victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course we covered it. Griffin’s presence completely changed the dynamic of the team and, more importantly, the win improved the Pistons to 24-26. The playof.....

Wait a minute, the present-day Pistons are 21-26; has anything really changed?

Depends on your definition of “anything.”

The Pistons are, obviously, still trying to figure this thing out. So in the big picture, the acquisition of Griffin hasn’t done much for the team in terms of wins and losses. Somehow, even after all this the fate of the Pistons’ future is still stuck on a path to nowhere and everywhere.

Griffin, on the other hand, has enjoyed a resurrection of respect throughout the league. So if your definition of “anything” is aimed at the state of Blake’s on-going legacy, then, yeah, this stop in Detroit, no matter how long the stay ends up being, has been a much-needed boot to the ass.

Similarly, Griffin’s incredible play while in those classic Motor City colors (red, white, blue, chrome, navy, tribute-to-the-Oakland-Raiders black - just no teal, please) has given myself, and triple-digit Twitter-follower bloggers like me, a completely fresh perspective on how to analyze 40 wins per year.

Heading into this season, even the most kool-aid guzzling of Pistons’ fans would’ve conceded that the team’s wins top out somewhere in the mid-40s.

That type of talk makes me a bit nervous.

Why?

As a DBB contributor, how do I keep this shit interesting?

I mean, “....the team’s wins top out somewhere in the mid 40s” has been the same narrative for ten years now. I’m not a good enough of a writer to keep coming up with hip and creative ways to say the same things and keep the attention span of these caffeine-overdosed millennials.

I’m completely out of synonyms for words like “poor” and “effort” and “Drummond.”

Hey, did I tell you about the time Reggie Jackson dribbled too much? Oh I did? OK, well, he did it again.

As long as I’ve been at DBB, the Pistons have kept throwing the same four mediocre ingredients out there and expecting success. News flash, this ain’t Taco Bell. It got to a point where, just before Opening Night in October, I started looking around the league to see if anyone was hiring because, if I were to keep going with this writing thing, I needed something new.

Dark times, but...

Blake Griffin’s timely resurgence has given me an opportunity to discuss narratives I never fully understood or experienced before.

From the minute Detroit made the deal for Allen Iverson on November 4th, 2008 to January 28, 2018, the idea of a “star” player in Detroit was only something you read about in newspapers and gossip rags.

Not anymore. This guy has been nothing short of amazing.

Look, Blake, I know we’re not LA. We can’t offer Hollywood, or beaches, or any other weirdo-hippie stuff in general. I’m not exactly sure what goes on out there, but we probably don’t have it.

Know this, though: your impact on the Detroit Pistons’ storyline world will never be forgotten. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 40 wins will never be the same.