Blake Griffin joins Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 taskforce: ‘Everybody has to contribute’

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
 
| Detroit Free Press

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During his post-practice media availability on Thursday, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin wore a mask. Most experts would agree the odds of catching COVID-19 through a virtual Zoom conference are non-existent, but Griffin had a positive example to set. 

Griffin’s media conference took place an hour after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she’s creating a new task force that will be tasked with raising awareness about COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy. 

Griffin is the lone athlete on the Protect Michigan Commission, which also includes Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, former Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and several medical experts. 

“I was just approached by the governor and being the spokesperson for being smart, wearing masks, social-distancing, washing hands, doing all of the things that we know are important and helps to slow the spread of the virus,” Griffin said. “But also, the vaccine as well when it’s time for that. It’s not something we’re going to get through just by a few people doing what they need to do. Everybody has to contribute. I’m glad to be a part of it and proud to be a part of it.” 

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The commission is being formed as Michigan prepares for the distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine, which has a 95% efficacy rate. The state of Michigan passed 400,000 cases and 10,000 virus-related deaths this week.  

Meanwhile, the NBA is preparing to start the 2020-21 season. The Pistons begin their home slate with a preseason game against the New York Knicks on Friday; they will play without fans at Little Caesars Arena for now. 

The NBA paused the 2019-20 season in March, then completed it and the playoffs in a “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, though the Pistons (along with several other teams) did not take part. Griffin, who has not played for the Pistons since Dec. 28 due to a knee injury, acknowledged that there’s some uncertainty approaching the start of the season.

But the NBA, along with the National Basketball Players Association, has a plan intended to minimize cases and ensure the completion of the season. Griffin said he believes the league is prioritizing safety, and he’s eager to play for the first time in 2020. 

Griffin’s public support for the eventual distribution of a vaccine comes after an ESPN report stating that the NBA could become the first professional sports league in America to manage wide vaccine dispersal for its players, coaches and staff. 

“Is there uncertainty? Yes. I’m not uneasy about it,” Griffin said of the looming season. “I think the NBA and NBPA have done a good job of putting together a plan that keeps us safe, first and foremost. It’s going to be a different experience. Going into it, no one knows what it’s going to be like. I’m just ready to play some basketball.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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