On January 23, the Los Angeles Clippers were in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to play the Raptors the following evening. The Raptors eventually won the game. But on the 23rd members of the team had gone out for dinner and at some point All-Star forward Blake Griffin got into an altercation with the Clippers’ assistant equipment manager Matias Testi, punching him in the face. Matias left the restaurant and Griffin followed him and then punched Testi repeatedly, eventually breaking his right hand.
The Clippers are on a five-game road trip and are due to play the Indiana Pacers tonight in Indianapolis, but they will do so without Griffin or Testi. After the fight both individuals were sent back to Los Angeles.
Griffin has been out for a third of the season so far with an injury to his quadriceps muscle, but now with the broken hand he is expected to miss at least another four to six week. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told the media, “”I always say four to six weeks for a broken hand is unrealistic. I’ll tell you that, just my opinion.”
Right now it isn’t clear if either Griffin or Testi will face any disciplinary action from the team or the league, but the door has been left open for it. On Tuesday, January 26 (Today) the Clippers released this statement:
The following is a joint statement from L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers:
L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin suffered a spiral fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand throwing a punch on Jan. 23 in Toronto.
This conduct has no place in our organization and this incident does not represent who we are as a team. We are conducting a full investigation with assistance from the NBA. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.
Griffin received X-rays on Jan. 25th in Los Angeles that revealed the injury and he underwent a procedure on his hand Tuesday morning. The procedure was performed by Dr. Steve Shin. Recovery time from the injury is approximately four to six weeks.
The Clippers have had a decent season so far, but they have been struggling to get to the top of the Western Conference and are currently in fourth place behind the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. So far this season the Clippers haven’t beaten any of those teams, with or without Griffin. But, the team is 14-3 without Griffin.
Los Angeles has experienced a surge of effort from other players as they collectively step up to fill the void and that has been good for the team. But L.A. was expecting Griffin to return to the lineup on this road trip, so they traded forward Josh smith back to the Houston Rockets. According to sources Griffin and Smith didn’t get along.
Doc Rivers told the media, “This type of stuff shouldn’t happen, but it did and it’s real life stuff and you have to deal with real life stuff in our make-believe world.” Rivers added, “We have to move forward, we have to figure out the best way to deal with this. My job right now at this moment is to make sure those guys in the locker room are ready to play this game. This is a distraction.”
As for the repercussions from the incident that is still unknown, but Rivers told reporters, “We have a responsibility, once we decide to play in this league, to conduct ourselves in a certain way. And that’s something we talked to them about yesterday. We represent the Clippers and we have to continue to do that. Everything that happens, obviously, you try to turn into a teaching lesson for your platers, They’re still young, they’re still learning life. It’s our job, sometimes, to teach life.”
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UPDATE: Griffin apologized for his part in the incident, taking to Twitter with a public apology. “A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about,” the tweet begins.
Doc Rivers was asked about the situation and if he was satisfied with Griffin’s apology. He told the press, “I’m not satisfied with anything. I’m talking about a non-basketball issue right now.”
As of now the team, the league and the players’ association are still investigating so disciplinary action, if any, has yet to be determined. One of the consequences is that now Blake Griffin is the subject of trade rumors.
Claudia Gestro contributed to this article, including all photos.
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