Damn, nobody in the NBA needed a possible 15 points in 12 minutes waiting on their bench for the playoffs?
It appears not, as Jamal Crawford has announced his retirement from the NBA. The NBA’s ultimate sixth-man tweeted out a picture of himself staring in the distance on an outdoor basketball court, saying goodbye to the game.
Crawford played 21 seasons in the NBA, but didn’t really develop his strong following of NBA fans until late in his career. He was a dynamic player in his one season at Michigan, but didn’t get to play in much of it. He was suspended six games for receiving money from a person he lived with during his high school years in Seattle. Then he was suspended for another eight games once it was discovered he’d filed paperwork to enter the NBA Draft coming out of high school. That suspension would’ve gone into his sophomore season.
His first eight seasons were with the Chicago Bulls, who drafted him eighth overall in the forgettable 2000 draft, and the New York Knicks, two teams with absolutely no direction. He put up good numbers, 20.6 points per game on 35.6 percent from three in the 2007-08 season with the Knicks, but his career turned around when in 2009 the Golden State Warriors traded him to the Atlanta Hawks for Acie Law IV, and Speedy Claxton — I remember both of these players really well, is poligrip in my near future?
That’s when the world was introduced to J-Crossover. He won his first sixth-man of the year award in his first season with the Hawks, nailing buzzer-beaters and scoring 18 points per game. He was the new school Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. He was taller, his shorts were baggier, and frequently put his opponents in a blender before burying jump shots in their eye.
Crawford’s best chance at a championship would come with the Los Angeles Clippers. He would win two more Sixth Man of the Year awards in his five seasons with the Clippers, as he was a key member of a team that was trying to get over the hump and win its first NBA Championship. It didn’t work out, as the Clippers flamed out in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs. Crawford would bounce around the NBA for a while, until his last season in 2019-20 with the Brooklyn Nets.
A look at Crawford’s stats will not do justice in the future to how good a basketball player he was. His career field-goal percentage is 41. He was like many of the players of the early aughts, who were capable of scoring lots of points, but played too much isolation-heavy offense.
The future generations can talk about Crawford being some gunner. It’s true that he liked to shoot, and it was so fun watching him do it. Defenders going backward like they’re on roller skates. Then all it took was the defender to hesitate momentarily and Crawford might get melt-the-television hot and put games away by himself. Before Steph Curry became huge, and basketball fans began to alert one another about Curry heating up from three, people used to talk about Crawford the same way.
So what if he missed more shots than he made his whole career, Crawford is the type of player that can’t be understood by a boxscore. His game has to be experienced live, misses and all. As a sixth-man, Crawford was as difficult to stop as any guard in the league, but unfortunately, he had to wait to get his flowers late in his career, because of how terrible his first two teams were.
We may not see Crawford play professionally anymore, but strikes me as the type of player that isn’t done with the game. If you want to get dropped by one of his crossovers on a public or L.A. Fitness court, in Seattle, be my guest. Just make you give your ankles the best tape up job if you see him.