REUTERS – Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is expected to miss four to six weeks of action after breaking his hand while throwing a punch, the National Basketball Association team said on Tuesday.
The five-time NBA All-Star, who has missed the past month with a torn left quadriceps tendon, suffered the latest injury while hitting one of the team’s equipment managers outside a Toronto restaurant, according to the LA Times.
Griffin threw multiple punches in a back-and-forth exchange with assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, who was left with a severely swollen face but no fractures, the Times reported.
“This conduct has no place in our organization and this incident does not represent who we are as a team,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and head coach Doc Rivers said in a joint statement.
“We are conducting a full investigation with assistance from the NBA. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken.”
The Clippers did not elaborate on the incident that caused the injury, saying only that Griffin suffered “a spiral fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand” after throwing a punch in Toronto over the weekend.
Griffin’s recovery time is expected to be approximately four to six weeks, the team said, though Rivers expressed his own doubts later on Tuesday.
“Four to six weeks with a broken hand is unrealistic, I’ll tell you that,” Rivers told reporters before the Clippers took on the Pacers in Indiana. “This type of stuff shouldn’t happen. But it did … and you have to live with real life stuff.”
Asked if he was satisfied with Griffin’s explanation of the incident, Rivers replied: “I’m not satisfied with anything. I’m talking about a non-basketball issue right now.
“You talk to everyone involved and you care about everyone involved … I feel bad for everyone involved, not just the player.”
Griffin, 26, is averaging 23.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game this season but has not played since Christmas Day because of a partially torn left quadriceps tendon.
He was hoping to return to action during his team’s current five-game road trip, which ends Wednesday in Atlanta, but that plan was abandoned when he returned to Los Angeles on Sunday.
The Clippers have gone 11-3 in his absence, though most of their wins have been recorded against teams with losing records.
“With Blake out, we’ve had this mode of trying to win every game and that’s how we have to continue to play,” Rivers said.
Last October, Griffin was allegedly involved in another physical altercation in Las Vegas where he was accused of snatching a man’s cellphone in a scuffle after the man had tried to take pictures of several Clippers players at a nightclub.
However, the misdemeanor battery case was later dropped after prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)