Blake Griffin pioneers shirt obama martin luther king muhammad ali

Photo via Marc J. Spears/Twitter

The L.A. Clippers put Blake Griffin on a T-shirt alongside Ali, Gandhi, MLK, and Obama



Chris Tognotti

Internet Culture

It’s not everyday that a basketball team compares its star player to some of the biggest global icons in science, politics, and civil rights.

But that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Clippers did to try to entice 28-year-old power forward Blake Griffin to sign a massive contract extension earlier this week, reportedly donning t-shirts featuring his face alongside such historical giants as Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and Albert Einstein.

Needless to say, the image has provoked backlash on social media, with plenty of observers not so sure the five-time All Star’s face belongs alongside, say, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The shirts were reportedly worn by Clippers team employees during Griffin’s free agent meeting, meaning they were part of an effort to ingratiate him to the team and convince him to stay. Griffin was drafted by the Clippers in 2009 and has never played for another team.

Given that Griffin’s teams have been perennial playoff also-rans, it’s worth noting that, in the Clippers’s eyes, it doesn’t even require an NBA championship for a frontcourt player to be ranked against some of the most iconic figures of the modern era. If it did, maybe there’d be shirts comparing LeBron James to Malcolm X, or Draymond Green to Mother Teresa.

Griffin’s new deal with the Clippers is set to pay him $178 million over the next five years, one of the richest contracts in league history. As such, he holds the distinction of being the highest-paid “pioneer” on that t-shirt, blowing away Mandela’s $4 million estate―which, in fairness, may have been dampened somewhat by his 27 years as a political prisoner of the South African apartheid government.

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