Blake Griffin is the Boston Celtics unsung hero


Hailey Akau

Illustration Hailey Akau

By Rumsha Siddiqui, Managing Editor

The Boston Celtics agreed to a one-year contract with 33-year-old veteran and six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin in October of 2022. NBA fans have been labeling Griffin as washed since his 2019-20 season with the Detroit Pistons, but his impact on the Celtics says otherwise. 

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is often regarded as the “heart and soul” of the Celtics, but let’s consider the C’s unsung hero: Griffin. While he isn’t going to put up MVP-esque numbers or a poster dunk every game, he still brings a lot to the table.

Prior to the start of the regular season, the Celtics were expected to have a complete frontcourt with Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Danilo Gallinari. However, Gallinari tore his ACL while playing for the Italian national team, and Robert Williams missed two months of the season while recovering from knee surgery. As a result, Griffin stepped up as a multifaceted reserve for the first half of this season. He got playing time in 26 games before the All-Star break and started as a center in 12

Griffin is averaging about 14 minutes per game this season—for most star players, this wouldn’t be ideal. It’s not uncommon for a former All-Star vet to believe that their team should revolve around them, despite not being able to generate prime-level stats. Griffin can’t put up numbers like he used to in his Lob City days, but he knows that and doesn’t try to. He’s in Boston to win a ring and is embracing his responsibility as a role-player.

“If you wanna keep playing in this league, you have to check your ego at every level … you have to understand your role within an organization,” Griffin said in an episode of the “View From the Rafters” podcast.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla describes Griffin’s game as “super aggressive.” He makes hustle plays despite being at the back end of his career, and last season he led the NBA with the most charges drawn. Griffin provides meaningful minutes when he needs to, whether it’s because Horford is sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back, or the injury-prone Celtics are down a big. If Griffin’s on the floor, expect him to dive for loose balls and play hard on defense.

Griffin’s impact goes beyond the basketball court. He has become a key locker room presence and has built friendships amongst his team. He uses humor to connect with the team and strengthen their chemistry. 

Earlier this season, the Celtics unanimously decided that Griffin is the funniest player on the team—he even has a running Notes app document that he regularly updates with jokes and ideas for stand-up routines. On the side, Griffin pursues stand-up comedy and hopes to make a career out of it after he retires from the NBA. This season, he’s been getting a lot of his comedic material from the “Bus 1 Boys,” the tight-knit group made up of Griffin, Sam Hauser, Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet, and Justin Jackson who have formed a bond by always taking the first team bus together to away game arenas. His appearances on “The Eric Andre Show” and “Ziwe” highlight his sense of humor.

In addition to being a comedian, Griffin also has the perspective and wisdom of an experienced 12-season vet. His humility has grounded him as a role model for the younger players, and an egoless player like him is a rarity in the league. Griffin chats with his teammates about taking care of their bodies, how to approach their careers, and how to navigate life as an NBA star.

“I feel like everybody loves him,” Luke Kornet said in an interview with The Athletic. “He’s just very kind and aware and empathetic. And he’s also a very fierce competitor. So whether it’s on the court or off the court, you just trust him. He’s been great for us. He’s an awesome guy.”

Fellow teammates Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have solidified themselves as the Celtics’ leaders, but Griffin has shown that he will do whatever it takes to win. Even with minimal responsibilities on the court, he has made a sizable impact on the team’s dynamics. Get the notion that he’s washed out of your head. Sure, he isn’t a part of the everyday rotation, but he fills his role as a veteran, boosts morale, and is overall a hilarious guy. The Celtics are firm title contenders and Griffin’s contributions to the team’s chemistry will help pave the way for a deep playoff run.