I was there because a good friend of mine received some bad news on Friday and a few of us were going to make her feel better with alcohol. Strangeways wasn’t too crowded, and I was standing at the bar, ordering some beverages. I was bumped from behind — a surprise because, as I said, it wasn’t packed. When I turned around to see who’d bumped me, I saw a giant man with a familiar face. It was Blake Griffin. He had a plastic red cup in his mouth.
If you don’t know who Blake Griffin is, you’ve probably stopped reading by now anyway. If not, he’s the star of the L.A. Clippers, former NBA Rookie of the Year, and probably the most powerful dunking machine on the planet. And until a recent injury, he was on the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. But on Friday, he was at a kind of dive-y bar in East Dallas. And he probably had no idea he was walking into a room full of journalist-types.
Griffin was with a beautiful young woman in tight white pants. Most of the people in their small party seemed to know her better than him. He was quite congenial though. He apologized for bumping me and offered his catcher’s mitt of a hand for a shake. As text messages and Tweets went out, the crowd grew — especially around Griffin. Shots were had. Then, more shots were had.
I asked him why he was here — in Texas, in Dallas, in this bar, randomly. He said he was visiting a friend (presumably the gorgeous woman in white), and they were at someone’s going away party, and the going away party had moved to a bar. This bar. (He had a large, black SUV in the parking lot with a driver waiting.) I noticed that several guys, when drunkenly approaching him, seemed to be trying to talk him into playing for the Mavericks. (Never mind the injury or the contract he just signed in L.A.)
So I asked, “How many people have tried to recruit you to Dallas tonight?”
“Not too many,” he said, being kind.
“How many would be too many?” I asked.
He thought for a second. “Double digits,” he said.
For a number of reasons (mostly involving texts from Zac), I wanted to ask him what he thought would be the largest non-human animal he could kill with his bare hands. (The answer is probably giraffe.) But I’d already distracted him from his date for long enough. He was kind enough to pose for photos with a number of excited women and awestruck men. One of them is the Polaroid shot you see above (courtesy of Daniel Rodrigue). (Side note: Blake Griffin is apparently into Polaroids and wanted to know all about Rodrigue’s camera and where he gets his film.) I don’t know the two guys standing on either side of Griffin, but I do know intrepid, award-winning reporter Bradford Pearson — the man you see prominently photo-bombing the shot. It was a strange night.