Clippers forward Blake Griffin declined Thursday to address the misdemeanor battery charge he faces in connection with a Las Vegas nightclub incident, but said he was “very confident in the situation.”
“Honestly, my whole focus right now is basketball and I promise you I will answer these questions when I can,” Griffin said before practice at the Clippers’ training facility in Playa Vista.
Asked if he found the charge scary or frustrating, Griffin responded without hesitation.
“No, I definitely would not say scary,” said Griffin, who could face jail time and/or a $1,000 fine and community service if convicted. “I feel more bad just for the fact that it’s a distraction and I don’t know how big of a distraction it really is, but it is and that’s what I feel mostly bad about.”
The altercation last month at the Tao nightclub in Las Vegas involved the use of a camera owned by Daniel Schuman, 39, of West Hollywood. The case alleges that Griffin squeezed Shuman’s hand and shoulder and/or slapped him in the face.
Griffin will not have to appear at his arraignment Dec. 8 at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. The Clippers play host to the Phoenix Suns the same evening at Staples Center.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said it was “great” that Griffin expressed remorse about being a possible distraction for his team.
“I love Blake, support Blake and this will work out,” Rivers said.
The Clippers hold their training camp in Las Vegas, although the Griffin incident occurred when the team returned later in the month for an exhibition game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Rivers said he would not move training camp in the wake of the ordeal.
“Have any of you guys ever been out in Vegas?” Rivers asked reporters gathered around him. “The difference is, people don’t get excited when they see you.”
Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBA players’ union, told ESPN on Wednesday that players should receive a larger share of league revenues in the next collective bargaining agreement. She also called a salary cap “un-American” and pushed for higher rookie wages.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver returned fire in the war of rhetoric, saying in a league release that “we couldn’t disagree more.”
What say you, Chris Paul, Clippers guard and president of the players’ union? Not much. At least for now.
“I haven’t seen that,” Paul said of Roberts’ comments, which called for a significant change from the current 50-50 split of basketball-related income between owners and players. “Once I do, I’ll definitely comment on it.”
Paul did say that Roberts, who in July became the first female union chief in major North American sports, was starting to meet with players about prominent issues in the next round of collective bargaining. There is a widespread expectation that players will opt out of the CBA in 2017 after the league’s recently completed $24-billion television deal and the soaring prices fetched by franchises.
New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer paid a record $2 billion in August to buy the team.
Does Paul feel it’s inevitable that NBA players will opt out of the CBA in three years?
“It’s something that we’ll continue to talk about,” Paul said.