Updated: December 26, 2009, 1:35 AM ET

Cavs Knock Off Lakers On Christmas Day

Griffin Patiently Waiting For Return

By Kevin Arnovitz

Blake Griffin is alone. While his teammates are back east on a six-game trip, the first overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft is at the Los Angeles Clippers' training facility rehabilitating the fractured left kneecap that braces his hulking 6-foot-9 frame. He has the whole place to himself, and that solitude gives him a lot of time to think. On this day, a week before Christmas, he's measuring his faith in destiny.

"I'm a believer in 'Everything happens for a reason,'" Griffin says. When you ask him what reason could possibly exist for being deprived of starting a career he's rightfully earned, he becomes politely defiant. "Honestly, I feel like good things can come out of situations you're put in. Maybe it's the lives you affect and the people you meet when you're in that situation."

Fate is a tricky concept for an athlete, particularly one as insatiably competitive as Griffin. If happenstance dictates events, then why bother to sculpt yourself into an indomitable physical specimen, as Griffin has? If your rookie season can be derailed by a perfect sequence of basketball, then why drive yourself to mastering the skills that enable that perfection?

Griffin has spent the past eight weeks grappling with these questions. Over that period, he's watched another No. 1 pick with an unimpeachable work ethic, Greg Oden, lose his season to injury. "That was kind of scary," Griffin says. Scary because it confirmed that commitment doesn't ensure success, and that there are factors out of an athlete's control, no matter how steady that resolve. For a 20-year-old like Griffin, whose physical regimen and unyielding desire to get better are all about commitment and control, that's a cold dose of reality.

Read the rest of Arnovitz's story at ESPNLosAngeles.com


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