Jill Hill interviews Blake Griffin

Jim Hill asks Clippers forward Blake Griffin at the Clippers media day about his health and the expectations of this season.

Andrew Bynum at Lakers media day

Lakers center Andrew Bynum had to answer questions at Lakers media day about why he waited so long after the season was over to get knee surgery.

Photos by Craig Bennett

Griffin went full speed ahead during rehab, while Bynum went to the World Cup

By Jason Lewis

Sentinel Sports Editor

The drive to prove one self can be a great motivator, and that is the position that the Clippers Blake Griffin is in right now. After missing the entire season last year, the former No. 1 overall draft pick is ready to get on the court to show that he can be a dominant player.

The Lakers Andrew Bynum, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like he is in any hurry to come back any time soon.

Bynum could have, and probably should have, had knee surgery right after the Lakers championship run. But who wants to hobble around after surgery in South Africa for the World Cup and a Safari? Bynum decided to wait until after he returned from his vacation to have his knee surgically repaired.

That decision will cost Bynum at least the first month of the season

Playing for the two-time NBA champs must have Bynum feeling comfortable about his situation. It doesn’t appear that the backlash from the media or fans is bothering the Lakers center, who has yet to live up to expectations, and has been hurt every year.

Bynum has shown flashes of dominance from time to time, but he has never put together an All Star type season. He seems to lack the drive of a great player.

Griffin, on the other hand, looks like he is the opposite. He has been working hard since he was cleared by doctors to rehab his knee, and he says that he is 100% healed.

Griffin looks to make a major impact on a Clippers team that might be able to make a run at the playoffs this season.

Griffin will not in any way be expected to carry this team, especially with the emergence of shooting guard Eric Gordon, who was one of the star players on the USC basketball team that recently won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship.

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Gordon make the USA team, and he put himself on the map by playing such a large role in the teams gold medal run.

Gordon could have a breakout season, which the Clippers will need, because point guard Baron Davis seems to be a little disinterested, again.

At media day, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro pointed out, as nice as he could, that Davis was out of shape. Del Negro said that the former All Star was not way out of shape, but just not where he should be entering training camp.

Davis has gotten the rep of being a player who has dogged it when the situation was not right for him, and he has not given the Clippers much production over the past couple of seasons.

The future of this team is Gordon and Griffin. Center Chris Kaman, coming off his first All Star season, will compliment Gordon and Griffin well. If they can get Davis to play up to his All Star abilities, the Clippers could give a lot of teams a run for their money.

But they will still be second fiddle to the Lakers for some time. The Lakers, with or without a healthy Bynum, are still on their championship run, and they will be worried about the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, not the Clippers.

Even with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwayne Wade in Miami, the Lakers are still the team to beat. Loading up on super star players does not always lead to a championship. Remember, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain played together for four seasons without winning a title.