Blake Griffin emerged unexpectedly Tuesday from a room filled with exercise equipment and weights inside the Clippers’ practice facility. He walked toward the designated spot to address reporters, appearing uneasy as he shifted his massive frame behind a bank of microphones, his voice quivering almost imperceptibly, until he gained confidence with each of the words he probably never imagined would leave his mouth.
“It’s something I think about every day and wish I could take it back,” Griffin said, “and I’ve told Matias that.”
Griffin was referring to Matias Testi, the team’s assistant equipment manager whom he punched last month at a Toronto restaurant, leaving Griffin with a broken right hand and his longtime friend with a swollen face.
Saying he was “truly, truly sorry,” Griffin addressed the incident with reporters for the first time in a surprise appearance. The Clippers suspended their star power forward for four games and docked his pay for five games for the altercation that was triggered by teasing that went too far for Griffin’s liking. Griffin said he believed his friendship with Testi was salvageable.
“I have talked to Matias tons of times since the incident,” Griffin said. “He actually said it best: ‘This stuff happens and we’re like brothers and we just have to move on.’ ”
Griffin is expected to be sidelined until sometime next month by his injury and ensuing suspension. He wore a black wrapping over his broken hand Tuesday.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers reiterated his previous stance that the team wasn’t trading Griffin and said he was “assuming” both Griffin and Testi would rejoin the team Thursday when it plays its first game after the All-Star break against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Rivers said he didn’t think the flurry of trade rumors involving Griffin had impacted his team.
“I think Blake and his people know what’s going on,” Rivers said. “I think it’s affected ESPN and all the talk shows, hopefully giving them ratings if that’s what they’re looking for.”
That’s not to say there couldn’t be an imminent move involving the Clippers. The team has been in trade discussions with Orlando involving veteran Channing Frye, a stretch power forward who has made 38.7% of his career three-pointers but has become expendable with Aaron Gordon taking over a starting role with the Magic.
The Clippers have included Lance Stephenson as the centerpiece of their trade discussions with the Magic but are also engaged with other teams in possible deals including the swingman, according to a league executive not authorized to publicly discuss potential moves.
Austin Rivers is expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks.
Griffin started his session with reporters with a 55-second address in which he said he had already spoken with his teammates and coaches but wanted to apologize to fans.
“It’s something that I feel awful about, something that I haven’t had to deal with ever before in life and it’s been tough,” Griffin said. “But now that the NBA has done their due diligence and the Clippers and I have my punishment, I’m looking forward to just moving on and moving past this and getting back on the court with our teammates.”
Griffin said he did not believe he needed anger management courses. He said the hardest part was having let his teammates and family down as well as the Clippers’ franchise and fans.
“Blake’s a good guy,” Rivers said. “Blake doesn’t run around doing things like this. It’s not like he has a history of it. … He can’t get it back, all he can do is live in the present and live for the future and we’ll see how that turns out. I feel good about that.”
Griffin said he had been widely encouraged in conversations with teammates, coaches and other Clippers staffers.
“The theme has been that everybody makes mistakes,” Griffin said. “We have all done things we regret. Everybody has just said, ‘Get back healthy and come back and join us.’ ”
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