Blake Griffin has left his mark on the University of Oklahoma.
After donating millions, the former Sooner’s name is now on a section of Oklahoma’s basketball arena, and his impact on the program is clear.
The Griffin Family Performance Center is an 18,000-square-foot facility added on to the south side of existing facilities at the Lloyd Noble Center and has state-of-the-art training equipment, exam rooms and a Gatorade bar. It has more luxuries than Griffin sid he is used to at the professional level.
The new complex will also help the Sooners with recruitment, said athletics director Joe Castiglione, and families’ eyes widen when they see the facility, which current players have nicknamed “the Griff.”
“Each and every time we do something like this, we elevate one of our programs,” Castiglione said.
In addition to attending the official dedication of the training center Aug. 25, the NBA All-Star made a trip home to Oklahoma last November to help with the announcement that his alma mater was becoming a Jordan Brand school.
An Oklahoma City native, Griffin played for the Sooners from 2007 to 2009 and started all but five games over his two-season run. He was the consensus national player of the year during his sophomore season and became the third player in OU history to record more than 1,000 points in his true sophomore year.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Clippers chose Griffin as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Griffin stayed in LA until January of this year when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons. Now, Griffin is a five-time NBA All-Star, though he’s had to battle injuries along the way.
Griffin made one of the biggest financial donations from any former Sooner basketball player. Castiglione wanted Griffin to be involved in the planning of the training center that bears his name.
“It was trying to see if he would help us bring a vision to life, and I wanted it not to be interpreted as him just going along with our vision,” Castiglione said. “We wanted him to participate in making that vision even better and taking the experiences that he had.”
His gift was a part of the $7 million it cost to build the Griffin Family Performance Center, but, while it was his money, he said it didn’t feel right to him to only put his name on it.
“There was a rendering early on that was the Blake Griffin Performance Center, and I hated it,” Griffin said. “It made me feel weird just because my whole life, my brother and I have been supported by our parents. They are the ones driving us to practice, working two jobs to make sure we had the things we needed — shoes, uniforms, all that. This whole thing, again, has been a group effort.”
When the Sooners take the court this season, Griffin’s impact will be apparent, especially with his name on the side of the building. The walls of the training center are decorated with Griffin’s logo and the Jumpman logo, and one wall in the building is dedicated to a quote from Griffin: “You have to fall in love with the process of becoming great.”
“I just can’t quite find the words,” Griffin said the day the Griffin Family Performance Center was unveiled. “This is something that means a lot to me — having my family’s name up there, but also giving student-athletes these types of facilities is huge. I really mean it, this was a group effort.”