David Griffin isn’t sugarcoating his time with the Cavaliers.
The former Cavaliers general manager admitted he was “miserable” during his time with Cleveland, adding that he had planned to leave the organization.
“Everything we did was so inorganic and unsustainable and, frankly, not fun. I was miserable,” Griffin told Sports Illustrated. “Literally the moment we won the championship I knew I was gonna leave. There was no way I was gonna stay for any amount of money.”
Griffin’s contract expired in 2017 and he did move on — less than two weeks after the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals. Griffin worked as an NBA analyst until April 2019, when he was named general manager of the Pelicans.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was heavily criticized for not trying harder to reach a new contract with Griffin, who had been with the organization since 2010.
However, after Griffin was promoted to GM in 2014, LeBron James and the team announced he would be returning to Cleveland to earn a championship ring in front of his native Ohio.
The pressure Griffin felt was enormous.
According to Sports Illustrated, Griffin “celebrated at first, then collapsed on his office floor in tears after James’ letter ran on SI.com, overwhelmed by the sudden pressure to deliver The King’s coveted ring.”
Griffin did give “The King” his ring, but it wasn’t the joyous occasion it should have been.
“I didn’t watch the league, and I didn’t love the game anymore,” Griffin said. “I was so fixated on outcome that I just totally lost my joy.”
He said it wasn’t until he left Cleveland to serve as an NBA analyst that he fell in love with basketball again, which led to him being ecstatic to join the Pelicans.
The move so far has been satisfactory for Griffin — by winning the draft lottery pick, the team snagged Zion Williamson in the NBA Draft, traded Anthony Davis and now he will be looking at trying to win an NBA title all over again. This time, the pressure is on — but in a positive way.
“Getting away from (Cleveland) made me find who I really am,” Griffin said. “It’s funny: Bagger Vance, you know, ‘Your authentic swing?’ I know now, authentically, who I’m meant to be as a leader.”