Los Angeles Clippers (35-18) star forward Blake Griffin finally broke his public silence over the fight with a team staffer that left him with a broken hand and sent one of the Western Conference’s top title contenders into turmoil.
Griffin addressed reporters and apologized for punching team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi Tuesday. The 26-year-old former No. 1 pick suffered a broken right hand after striking Testi last month during L.A.’s road trip to Toronto, which led to a four-game suspension, five games of lost pay, as well as four-to-six weeks of rehab for his injury.
"It's something I think about every day and wish I could take it back and I've told Matias that," Griffin said.
The two friends, Griffin said, engaged in teasing that went too far in Griffin’s eyes, which he said caused him to lash out. However, Griffin said he and Testi have spoken many times about what happened and they continue to mend fences.
"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.'"
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he expects both Griffin and Testi to rejoin the team on Thursday when they square off against second-place San Antonio in the first post-All-Star break game.
The Clippers are currently fourth in the West, a position they’ve built since Griffin went down with a knee injury in December. But the fight could’ve split a very close team apart as it makes a push towards the top of the standings in the second half of the season.
The fact that L.A.’s managed to hang with the West’s other top teams (Golden State, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City), even with Griffin sidelined and the team’s chemistry put into peril, led to trade speculation earlier this week.
Rivers denied a report by ESPN’s Chris Broussard, which detailed a swap that would send Griffin to the Denver Nuggets.
"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."
Before he went down, Griffin was on pace for one of the best seasons of his career. Over 30 games he’s averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field.