He was first a YouTube celebrity and sensation in college after dunking on LeBron James back in 2009. However, Jordan Crawford is regarded as much more than that nowadays in the National Basketball Association. Crawford attended Xavier University in his second year, after transferring over from Indiana University. His game developed more at Xavier, where he was averaging 20.5 points per game, doubling what he was scoring at Indiana. He helped lead the team to multiple Sweet 16 appearances. He declared for the NBA draft after two years of college basketball. The young 6’4″ point-guard was originally drafted in the 1st Round by the Brooklyn Nets, but was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on draft day. With a brief stint of 16 games under his belt in Atlanta, the Hawks traded Crawford to the Washington Wizards. He ended his rookie season with Washington averaging 16.3 points and 3.9 assists per game. Crawford played in place of the injured John Wall for most of his Wizards’ career, but was traded again along the East Coast, this time to the storied franchise of the Boston Celtics. Playing in Boston helped Crawford grow as both a player and person. Having two future hall of famers by the names of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett helps.
“It was good, you learn a lot. You see how they are off the court and how they conduct themselves so it is all a great learning experience,” Crawford said about playing with Pierce and Garnett.
Coach Brad Stevens was patient with Crawford and let him facilitate the offense. With Pierce and Garnett traded, & point-guard Rajon Rondo out with a major injury, all signs pointed towards the talents of Crawford to run point-guard. Crawford excelled in his role. Despite being able to put up points in a hurry, Crawford showed how unselfish he really is. He averaged a career high 5.7 assists per game and also added in 13.7 points while running the one.
Handling ball duties with Rondo out helped Crawford get a better feel for the game. The new responsibilities assisted on his growth on and off the court to become a leader of the young Celtics team. With Rondo nearing his return, teams were aggressively looking to add Crawford to their respective squads. Crawford has always had the talent and potential, but never fully found a home. With constant trades, it has forced him to play different roles. In Washington, he was alongside Wall and covered for him during his course of injuries. During his first year with the Celtics, Crawford was used as an energy bench player to help the team in scoring with the second unit. His second year with the Celtics landed him a starting spot, with him becoming their leader due to injuries. Crawford was traded to the Golden State Warriors midway through the season. Golden State was actively looking for someone to give star point-guard Stephen Curry some reassurance. With constant minutes and fatigue wearing on him, the Warriors knew what they needed: a guy who can come off the bench and help the second unit score while being able to create his own shot in the process. Names such as Kyle Lowry, Kirk Hinrich, and Andre Miller all came up on the rumor mill, but a conflict also came with each player. Crawford on the other hand, fills the void pretty well. While he has no relation to Los Angeles Clippers’ guard Jamal Crawford, Jordan can score in bunches like Jamal. Being 6’4″ helps him shoot over most of his defenders. He creates his own shot at will and doesn’t rely on others to find him on the court. Crawford brings energy off the bench, makes his teammates better, and it helps being able to knock down the three-ball at will in Coach Mark Jackson’s system.
“It’s very different. Coach Jackson played in the NBA, so he knows what a player is thinking. He knows how the games go. Brad wanted to be a little more hands on, and had slower plays. It’s different, but all the same when it comes to a respect level,” Crawford explained.
One of the best benefits aside from playing on a championship contending team might be the fact that he escaped the freezing temperatures from the East Coast. Playing in the Bay Area on the West Coast has undoubtedly been treating him better with weather conditions.
“It feels like the summer, but it’s during the NBA season; it feels good to have good weather when you go out,” Crawford mentioned regarding the different living situations.
Jarrett Jack played a critical role in the Warriors’ offense last season, which resulted in their surprising playoff run. Jack was able to hit clutch shots when called upon, lead others around him with his play-making ability, and perhaps most importantly, take pressure off of Curry. Crawford might lack the experience Jack had due to age differences, but Crawford has just as much, or even more talent than Jack. The addition of Crawford helps Golden State deepen their bench, as they acquire a very solid candidate to back-up Curry. The experience Crawford had at the start of the season with Boston by being their main playmaker was just training for a Golden State team who is hungry to contend and potentially win it all.
“It’s different roles, you’re asked to do different things. Now it’s just more about finding your rhythm quicker. When you got the ball all the time at the point, you can find rhythm and get other people involved and get to what you want to do when it’s time. Now you just want to come in and bring a spark off the bench” Crawford said.
Crawford has played for a new team in virtually every season since he has been drafted. It gets tough to find a grove, but he can always count on respective team players and veterans to help him adjust to any scenario thrown his way. He lists veterans such as Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal as guys who he sees as team leaders due to their experience, and Curry as the overall leader of the team. While his scoring might have gone down with all the other offensive players on the team, Crawford has raised his efficiency in Golden State. He is shooting 47 percent from the field and making 41 percent of his three-pointers.The skill-set demonstrated goes well on a resume to apply and become the third ‘Splash Brother’ the Warriors can count on regularly. Crawford has been a solid, much-needed addition to the Warriors’ reserves. The team was near the bottom in the league in bench point scoring, and the energy and talent brought on by Crawford helps the team’s depth. Playing well is one of the goals Crawford has clearly set for himself, but on a larger frame, he wants to help Golden State become a legitimate title contender.
“It’s going to be a challenge, you don’t want to lose, so you expect the best. You want to win the championship and contend. You want to be one of those teams that other teams fear,” Crawford said.
The next time you think of Crawford, do not think of the guy who dunked on LeBron in ’09.
“They ask about it a lot. The further I get away from it, people ask me and I say yeah, that’s me. But it wasn’t really a big deal,” Crawford said when asked if he still is questioned by fans for his dunk on James.
Imagine the guy with talent, who helped a team get better with his unselfish ways. Picture the guy who will take either a starting or a reserve role, as long as it helps the team win a championship. With many players nowadays going for individual statistics and rewards, Crawford looks at the ultimate prize. Crawford is still being adjusted into the Golden State offense and will develop playing with his teammates better once the familiarity is there. When the name Jordan Crawford comes up, he wants people to know he played well.
“‘He had game..he had it.’ That’s what I want people to remember,” Crawford said about what he wants people to think after his playing career is over.
Crawford has a long way to go before that day comes. With the way he plays, he will have a long, successful NBA career. Whether he starts as a point-guard for a team or is a missing piece to a championship contender, Crawford will accept his role and give his all for his team. For now, the unselfish Crawford has found a home in Golden State where they will take him in as the potential missing piece to becoming one of the best teams in the league.