OKC Thunder: What Adrian Griffin brings to the Thunder


Two seasons ago, Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler waited to receive his Most Improved Player award and heap praise on his assistant coach. As Butler sat with his hands in his lap, the master of ceremonies read off the accolades of the Bulls staffers seated beside the young All-Star.

Adrian Griffin wasn't sitting on the stage, but Butler made sure to single him out in his acceptance speech.

“All my coaches had a lot to do with it,” Butler said. “… but I think Adrian Griffin had a lot because he had to deal with me just being unbearable."

“I think he has a lot to do with who I am.”

Griffin, the newest Thunder assistant, has a history of creating relationships that has contributed to his reputation as one of the NBA's up-and-coming coaches.

Who is Griffin? The 41-year-old is a son of Wichita, Kan., the son of a minister. Griffin is a father of four who briefly left coaching in 2011 to spend more time with his family. He was a player lightly recruited out of Wichita East High School, who then-Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo picked up late in the process because two players transferred.

Griffin was one of two Kansans recruited to Seton Hall in 1992. He and Craig Duerksen both arrived on the South Orange, N.J., campus that fall after All-State careers, and both almost left after one season. Carlesimo — who was the first coach in Thunder history — was tough. Griffin wanted out.

Yet, Duerksen transferred and Griffin stayed. Why? Griffin said in an interview with cjonline.com in 2006 that he would have bolted but he thought it wouldn't look good for the state of Kansas if they both left together. Griffin stayed and earned All-Big East honors as a junior and senior.