LAS VEGAS -- Anyone who's dunked remembers his first time. For most people, it usually involves a weak, just-barely-graze-the-rim "slam" after a running start between pickup games or after a practice.
Even Blake Griffin, perhaps the best dunker on Earth, had a humble beginning to his dunking career.
"I was 13," Griffin said. "My dad was the high school coach, and my brother used to go to the school he coached at, and I was at one of their practices and went up and dunked. It was a terrible dunk. But I dunked on the side goal."
The young Griffin, who was 6-foot-2 at the time, looked around to see whether anyone was sharing his excitement.
"I think somebody kind of saw, but they weren't impressed," Griffin reminisced. "It wasn’t like people were standing around watching me in anticipation. I used to always try, like a hundred times a day. Nobody was too impressed."
He's come a long way since then.
Griffin spoke to ESPN Playbook about his dunking, his growth as a player and his interest in video games since being named to the "NBA 2K13" cover with Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose.
What’s it like for you to see yourself on the cover of ‘NBA 2K13’?
It’s an honor, an extreme honor, especially to be with KD and D-Rose, two of the best players in the game right now. It means a lot. Just being on the cover, ‘2K’ has a lot of great guys. Obviously last year with the legends on there, every year, they have a great player and a legend or whoever.
Are you much of a ‘2K’ player?
I play a little bit. I don’t have as much time to play as much as I’d like. I’m familiar with it, and I’ve played it before.
How about video games in general? You were on the cover of ‘NCAA Basketball 10,’ and you were part of the marketing for “Rage.” Are you into games?
I wouldn’t say I’m super into video games where I know every game that’s coming out. But I have Xbox and PlayStation 3 at home. I dabble.
Your dunking ability makes you a pretty popular character on the game. Do people ever talk to you about that?
Mostly people will send me pictures of me getting dunked on by their player. They’ll send me pictures or tweet me of how I got dunked on.
How often do people, your fans and your friends, mention your dunks to you?
After they happen, after a couple of them, the next few following weeks or whatever people always talk about them. But as far as a daily basis, I wouldn’t really know because they don’t say it to me.
Do you get into your dunk highlights like other people do?
No, not really, to be honest. For me, dunking is just a way of finishing and finishing with power. It’s not something I really seek out and try my hardest to do. It’s just when I get around the rim, I might as well go finish strong. That’s the strongest way I know how.
Do you remember the first time you dunked on someone?
Not really, no.
Probably would’ve been high school, right?
Oh wait, I do remember. It was my freshman year in a state championship game. My brother hit me with a pass, and I kind of dunked on somebody, but not really. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too bad.
How important is it to you to be known as more than just a dunker?
I’ve put a lot of work in. That’s something I’m working on this summer, continuing to develop my game. Going into my third year, this summer’s big for me. The experience from the Olympics will hopefully be good for me, and like I said, I just want to continue to expand my arsenal and be able to attack in a lot of different ways.
You agreed to a contract [Tuesday] to extend with the Clippers. So it’s on you tonight in Vegas?
No, not yet. I still have a rookie contract to work out. It’s exciting, and it’s exciting to reach that point in my career, but I still have a lot of work to do.
Almost everybody is one-and-done now in college, but you stayed that extra year even though you would’ve been a top-10 pick after your freshman year. Do you think that year helped you become the player you are now?
Absolutely. Coming back with the expectation of possibly going No. 1, and you know, really committing my summer and committing my time to get improving my game and being more prepared for that next year and being more prepared for when I did enter the draft, it helped me a lot. It gave me a year to mature. Looking back, it’s something that I’m really glad I did.
How tough of a decision was it to stay the extra year?
It was tough. And at the time, when I decided to go back, a lot of people killed me because they thought I could get injured or I could end up having a bad year and not get back to that point. But it was something I really believed in, and I talked to my family about it, and we all agreed. And that was that.