Winter 2022

Atlanta Hawks rookie AJ Griffin hits another OT game-winner, gives glory to God

Atlanta Hawks rookie small forward A.J. Griffin called game.

With 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime and the Hawks trailing the Chicago Bulls by one Sunday night, Atlanta inbounded from the sideline. The ball was lobbed to Griffin in the lane, he caught it, turned and flipped it into the basket in one motion, and the Hawks escaped with a 123-122 victory.

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Afterward, Griffin made sure to deflect the glory to his Lord and Savior.

Sunday night’s game-winner in Atlanta was already Griffin’s second of his NBA career, only 23 games into his rookie season. Less than a month ago, in overtime at home against the Toronto Raptors, the 19-year-old from Duke laid in a Trae Young lob at the horn to give the Hawks a 124-122 win.

When asked about the reputation he’s developing for making clutch shots, Griffin said Sunday night, “I’m happy with that! It’s definitely a blessing. All glory to God, for real.”

Griffin is starting to find a rhythm in his first NBA season. The 16th overall pick is averaging 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game in 20.7 minutes of playing time. However, his role has increased significantly in recent weeks. Sunday’s win was his fifth straight start and sixth total, playing a career-high 40 minutesΒ and scoring 17 points, including his buzzer beater.

Renowned as a sharpshooter coming out of college, the Ossining, New York, native hasn’t been able to find his range yet in the NBA, shooting 33.0% from the 3-point line on the year and 2-of-11 from three on Sunday. But Hawks head coach Nate McMillan believes it will come.

“He has confidence in himself,” McMillan said in his postgame press conference on Sunday. “He works hard, and when he has a rhythm as he did tonight, you want to try to get that ball in his hands because he can shoot the ball and he can make plays. And tonight, he did.”

Throughout his brief NBA journey, Griffin has relied on his faith in Christ and has been steadfast in sharing it with others. Griffin β€” who devotes his bios on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram to glorifying God β€” often posts videos discussing what it means to be a Christian and highlighting different Bible verses.

In one of his most recent TikTok videos, posted at the end of November, Griffin highlighted James 4:7-10.

“I just want to encourage you to submit to God,” Griffin concluded. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. That’s what it says in verse 7. Just know that when you’re submitting to God, you’re able to walk in the fruit that God has called you to walk in. God, He will carry that burden for you. He never called you to fulfill His will on your own. Just know that He’ll provide every single thing that you need.”

@ajgriffin_14

Submit to God daily! πŸ€πŸ™πŸΎπŸ’ͺ🏾#fyp #christiantiktok #Jesuslovesyou

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

“People always ask me why I believe in God so much,” Griffin said in a video on Instagram in August. “The reason why is because God saved me when I was at my lowest moment. When I was deep down in my sin of lust, living for the world and just trying to fill this void inside me with the pleasures of this world. It left me so broken to where I was just crying out for help, and the only One who was there was Jesus Christ.”

 

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Griffin told 247 Sports this past February about what God has done.

β€œI feel like everyone needs a relationship with God,” he said. β€œFor me, I believe in Jesus Christ and what He’s done in my life; I want that to happen to others, too. I was in a bad place when I was going through injuries (in his last two years of high school), and He’s the One that helped me through it. He’s the One that got me out of that situation and really made me a better person.”

As Griffin seeks to remain grounded in faith and enjoy the unconditional love that God has shown him, he will try to earn an even greater role in Atlanta’s game plan. Sunday’s twisting buzzer-beater snapped a three-game skid for the Hawks (14-13), who now go on the road for the next three contests, beginning on Monday at Memphis (17-9). The game is set for 8 p.m. ET.

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