The Wizards won't play the Los Angeles Clippers until March, but a few Washington players are already familiar with Blake Griffin -- and not just because he'll face-off with JaVale McGee next month in what could be a spectacular Slam Dunk Contest.

Al Thornton was Griffin's teammate for a half season last year in Los Angeles. Even though Griffin missed the entire season due to injury, Thornton said he still had a nickname: Amazing.

Hilton Armstrong got his first glimpse of Griffin's work ethic two summers ago while running with him on Pacific Ocean beaches outside of San Francisco while wearing 40-pound weighted vests, part of stealth trainer Frank Matrisciano's unique regimen.

"Whatever he's going to have to do, he's going to do it," Armstrong said.

The NBA should take the same approach with lobbying fans to vote Griffin into the Western Conference starting lineup for next month's NBA All-Star Game.

A nod to the West bench and the dunk contest won't be enough, as Griffin demonstrated with his 47-point masterpiece against Indiana on Monday, the highest scoring game for any player this season. Only one of his 24 shots in that game was sort of a slam; the rest were all manner of athletic, skillful, physical, powerful and downright precocious. Who else drops in a bank shot off the upper corner of the backboard from 17 feet?

It's exactly what the NBA needs in the All-Star Game, not the second coming of "The Decision" hogging an entire weekend at Staples Center. Carmelo Anthony already has hog-tied two teams this season, but he's still the second-leading vote-getter at forward according to last week's balloting numbers.

It's much more enjoyable watching Griffin, who is fourth in voting (Lakers forward Pau Gasol is third), do damage on the court, to the point that veterans like Lamar Odom and James Posey are agitated enough to shove him, grab his jersey or refuse to shake hands.

"Yeah, I've got a thing for rubbing people the wrong way, I guess," Griffin said.

Hopefully, those aren't the ones submitting All-Star ballots.