Nonplussed: Blake Griffin and the Blue Collar Boys

Image of NBA Nets player Blake Griffin at practice

“I was watching a Nets game and noticed Blake Griffin doing some sort of pantomime—pretending to put on a hat and boots.”

It’s no secret that I’m a bigtime fan of Joe Harris. When the NBA bubble rolled into Orlando, the Nets slotted a 7th place playoff seed. They were down two of their star players — Kevin Durant (who had just been traded that season to the Nets from the Warriors but was out all year for injury) and Kyrie Irving, who was injured prior to the season end.

During that time Harris really shined—he got a chance to lead during those odd bubble playoff games. As a fan,I respect his work ethic, he exudes a humble dedication to the sport with no ego. He seems comfortable and confident, even on a big three team. 

In my piece about James Harden earlier this year, I referred to Harris as the “NBA’s ultimate team player” based on the energy he radiates. 

When I started playing fantasy basketball last year one thing that surprised me was that Blake Griffin was still in the NBA (up until the pandemic I only followed the Nets). In addition to loving basketball, I am a huge comedy fan. In recent years I have mostly seen Blake in that space—on the Comedy Central roast of Alec Baldwin, guest appearance on Broad City etc. I know he is a comedian as well as an athlete and to my knowledge he was now doing that full time (prior to doing some research for this piece I didn’t know much about him to be honest!).  

NBA Nets player Kyrie Irving at practice

Anyhow, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was still, in fact, playing basketball. He was genuinely funny from the comedic appearances I have seen and I admire that he finds time to pursue a creative passion despite his demanding NBA schedule (Blake, whatever your secrets are to be a full time athlete and have a comedy career please share!) I was pretty excited when he transferred to the Nets last season. Who doesn’t want the NBA comedian on your team?! Not to downplay the hilarity of Kawhi Leonard, who debatably remains a comedian in his own right (Kawhi, we would love to have you too! Thank you for all you’ve done for us dead panners).

Last month, I was watching a Nets game and noticed Blake Griffin doing some sort of pantomime—pretending to put on a hat and boots. Is this some sort of NBA signal I don’t know about? What is this?!

I was beyond delighted to learn that last season he and Joe Harris bonded and branded themselves the “Blue Collar Boys,”  for getting in and doing all the dirty work. I love that he acknowledges these traits in Joe Harris, the same ones made me coin him the ultimate team player. Nets newcomer Patty Mills joined the group this year — making them the official cool boys clique of the NBA. The hat and boots gesture is part of a bit they do for the BCB.

On December 14th, the Nets took on the Raptors at the Barclay’s center. It was an unusual night—due to Joe Harris being injured, Kyrie—uh—doing Kyrie, and Covid cases, the Nets were down to only 8 available players, the minimum required to play. 

The hard hats and boot straps came out. Blake Griffin and Patty Mills carried the game, with Mills tying things up on a three point shot in the last 15 seconds. They went on to win the game in OT, thanks to the Blue Collar Boys (ok, ok and KD too who came out even with a sore ankle and dazzled—Mills too put on a stunning noteworthy performance).

NBA Nets player Joe Harris at practice

Of course, as the ultimate team player would, injured Joe Harris furiously cheered them on from the sidelines—celebrating their every move. Despite not being constantly in the spotlight, he consistently gives 100%, even when he’s not playing. He truly seems like an overall great, down to earth guy.

Griffin, being a celebrity in his own right, comes off more relatable and cool for these friendships. He’s brought an air of silliness to the team which has a lot of seemingly serious characters on it. He’s a fun addition to the Nets and it’s awesome that he is building up and giving credit to under praised players like Joe Harris and Patty Mills.

Hopefully all three take this to the comedy club. I’d pay money to see that Patty Mills air guitar in person. A big three in their own right. I can’t wait to see more of what the Blue Collar Boys have in store for us in 2022, on the court and off.