Him. That guy. The one feared. Comes in cold and does things cold to the opposition. He is a player no one wants to face in the 4th because his legs are fresh and the shoulder chips are ubiquitous. He wants to give it to the one who dares to guard him. Fire, skill…a love for the game. A respect for its past. Humility is all that is asked. You see, Jamal Crawford wants to light you up but will do so with a smile on his face. It’s nothing personal. Destroying you is his job. He doesn’t see the faces…just wants to give you the scars. The Atlanta Hawks are immersed in a seven game series with the upstart Bucks and it’s only a matter of time before Crawford stamps his name on the series with something of a 16 point quarter or a 30 point game where he has three 4 point plays. He is poised to win 6th Man of the Year today. Part two of this will drop at a later date as a team meeting was the reason this conversation was cut short. I’ll keep you posted. Have a great week.
Bob McAdoo is next…
Michael Tillery: Were you happy when you initially got word you were a member of the Atlanta Hawks?
Jamal Crawford: I couldn’t wait to come here. I really felt I could add something.
MT: You definitely have starter’s talent. Adding your scoring punch and versatility to an already well rounded team, what went through your mind?
JC: It was fine because everyone embraced me with open arms the moment I came. The city…the team. My teammates and the organization made it really easy. They had such a good five…their chemistry. I thought it would be a bonus to come here and add something to the second group even though I play starter’s minutes. It adds to the depth of the team.
MT: From a professional perspective, can you describe being a starter, then coming off the bench? You seem to come in hot. Most want to get lathered up…get that sweat going.
JC: You can’t let it change. The way I try to do it is…it’s like going to a gym in the summer to play. You look out on the court…
Those guys are already out there playing so I got next.
I didn’t always view it that way, but that’s what has helped me make the adjustment. I have to do it all the time in the summer. You know…people are out there…I’m stretching. I got next.
MT: 50 points in a game scorer what…3 times?
MT: What are some of your regrets coming into the league? What have you learned?
JC: I came into the league at 19, so I went through the whole Chicago rebuilding process after Jordan. After that, I went to New York and I feel I really grew up there during those 4 1/2 years playing with some veterans. I saw a lot of different things in New York that helped me mature in all sorts of ways. Golden State was almost like a pit stop. I was only there a year.
MT: Does Atlanta feel like home?
I felt like this can be home. You understand it’s a business. You never know how stuff works out. I like the chemistry here and it’s gonna be good finding out how good we can be.
MT: Quick question from the fan in me. Huge University of Michigan fan…all sports…I remember you putting up what like 87 on Duke…
JC: (We laugh) Nah it was 27 and 6 assists.
MT: The recruiting process…was Michigan your first choice?
JC: Yeah. No doubt. I committed early. My last 4 choices were Michigan, UCLA, Washington and Fresno State.
Michigan won out.
That block M on the shorts was everything college basketball to me.
MT: After the Fab Five left your class was talented. I remember a big game against Michigan State on ESPN…Dick Vitale was doing color…when you came out in street clothes my heart sunk.
JC: You have a great memory. That’s exactly who it was against. I couldn’t play that game.
MT: How did playing…albeit a short time…in a high profile program help prepare you for this level?
JC: It helped me a lot. Everyone was saying I was too skinny to play in the Big Ten. Back then being from Seattle, it was a big thing to go to D1 (division one). To go to a big time D1 was huge. It helped give people inspiration from around my way. If I could do it, they could do it. I knew everyone from back home was watching those TV games because I was carrying the flag at that moment. I had a ball up there. I was trying to help resurrect Michigan basketball at that time.
MT: What made you go there? Putting on that Maize and Blue…
JC: The Fab Five. I loved the Fab Five. Loved Jalen Rose. Loved Chris Webber, Juwan (Howard) and all those guys. It is a great school and I had an opportunity to play right away. It was a school I grew up watching. It was perfect. At that time we were the 2nd best recruiting class in the country behind Duke. We had 5 freshmen that were pretty good. Great memories. I got to talk to Jalen and all of those guys. I was in heaven. We had a good team that year.
MT: You still follow the program? What do you think about Coach Beilein’s system with the guards getting so many rebounds. What are the advantages of a being a guard playing that style?
JC: Of course I follow the program. As far as the system, if you get the rebound, you can push the ball up court. You don’t have to wait for an outlet. You can just get right to it.
MT: You then had the Michigan experience and the NBA beckons. What were some of your imaginations once you got into the league…especially knowing it was a true vision for you?
JC: It was just different. It was an older league. On the Bulls, our average age was like 21. We were all a bunch of young cats.
MT: I was talking to a mutual friend of ours and he told me he could see the kid in you the first time he saw you play because you were so enthusiastic. What are your initial thoughts and imaginations of soul rock soul (basketball)?
JC: When I was younger…really young…my Mom gave me a Dr. J hoop in the house and I had this little yellow basketball playing all the time. I remember watching All-Star games. Those are my earliest memories.
MT: Was there a specific All-Star game that comes to mind?
JC: I think it was Jordan’s first game (all-star). I think he and Dr. J were on the same team. I was a huge Dr. J fan. Jordan had a breakaway. Doc was in front and Jordan kept it. I was so mad because he should have passed it.
That’s Dr. J. You know what I mean?
MT: Damn Jamal. I remember that game. It was infamous. The freeze out game.
JC: Do you?
MT: Yes, of course! I’m from here. How can I not?
JC: That was my first feel. I took you back huh?
MT: Yes you did.
JC: It was all because of the Dr. J hoop.
MT: One of the cats I grew up watching. The reason for the Doc piece I spoke to you about earlier was to add to the current perspective. Also the reason I spoke to Dominique and I thank you for interjecting. I’m trying to tie history together as best as possible.
JC: Crazy you remember that play.
MT: I was hot.
JC: I showed off on my Doc hoop when Doc was playing.
MT: It appears all the kids know now is Magic/Bird…and then Mike. There is so much more basketball they need to now. I think the difference between Mike and Doc is Doc was past his mean time…which occurred in the ABA. At the time, Mike was trying to establish himself and get from out of Doc’s shadow because of the obvious comparisons.
Do you remember your first organized team?
JC: Yeah…eight and nine year olds in the rec league. I was playing center but I could always handle the ball. I had great memories. I remember we were doing layups in the layup line…you took me back there.
JC: I was just so hungry. I remember moving back from LA to Seattle. I was trying to establish myself. I didn’t play my first two years of high school. I was just trying to go hard.
Whoever in front of me had a problem. Whoever. It didn’t matter who it was. I was just focused.
That stuff sticks with you forever…that same focus…that same hunger.
MT: Why were you so hungry? Where was the inspiration?
JC: I wanted it. I wanted to be successful.
I wanted to make it to the NBA. I don’t care how I got there.
I knew I was talented enough because I used to work out with guys like Eric Snow, Gary Payton, Sean Kemp and all the Sonics when I was in high school. They saw the potential in me. I was just hungry. I was going at everybody.