Since 2000, Jamal Crawford has been one of the NBA most entertaining players. He has left a trail of buzzer beaters and broken ankles—from his hometown of Seattle, his time at the University of Michigan, to his pro stops in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to his current team in Minnesota. After winning multiple Sixth Man Of The Year awards for contending teams, Crawford is still going strong at the age of 37. When most players his age are winding down their careers, Crawford is still providing us with jaw-dropping highlights. When it’s all set and done Crawford might be the greatest modern day sixth man in NBA history. Furthermore he’s one of the best NBA products to come out of his beloved home state of Washington. Seattle might no longer have The Sonics to root for, however, they still have Crawford who is the essence of Seattle basketball.
We recently sat down with him to talk about being a veteran on The Timberwolves, building a culture in Minnesota, and his fond memories of playing in New York.
How does it feel to be a veteran on this young Minnesota team?
It feels good. As the team grows we’re trying to build a culture here—it’s not just wins and losses on the court, it’s how you approach things off the court. The knowledge I give from the situations I’ve been in has been really beneficial to the young guys.
Did you ever imagine that your NBA career would be so long?
I thought I would still be playing. I just never put a cap on the years because I love this game so much. I think it’s crazy that I’m still here.
What went into your decision to sign with Minnesota?
Just thinking about the veteran presence here—seeing Taj [Gibson], Jeff [Teague], and Jimmy [Butler] sign here—combined with the young talent here, such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns. For me, I thought it was the perfect mix of vets and young guys who’re trying to get better.
How does it feel that you’re one of the reasons that Minnesota is in contention for their first playoff spot since 2004?
I feel good about it, for us we’re not trying to put limits on what we can do, it’s about taking it one day at a time, we feel when we’re playing our best we can play with anybody, so we’ll see what happens.
You’re one of the top ankle breakers in the game. Do you have any memorable ones that stick out?
I have a couple of nice ones on Ray Allen, I have a good one on Deron Williams, but he got me first. He crossed the heck out of me, I thought the screen was coming, and he got me bad. It happened in the Garden so I had to get him back, so I did the double behind the back. I had a nice one on Wesley Matthews, I’ll let you decide the rest.
How about when you crossed over D-Wade?
I missed the jumper, he pushed my leg when I shot and he threw me off, he went around in circles though. I don’t count it because I missed the shot.
Do you have fond memories of playing in New York for The Knicks?
If we’re being honest, looking back on everything New York was probably my favorite place to play—just being here and the energy that New York provides is like no other. Those four and half years were special to me.
You played at Rucker Park when it was going through somewhat of a resurgence. I remember you playing with NBA guys like Kenyon Martin, Sebastian Telfair, Ron Artest, Stephon Marbury and local legends like Kareem Reid, and John Strickland. What do you remember about playing at Rucker Park during that time period?
I loved playing in the Rucker, I played on Jay-Z’s team every day for a month, then I came back and played with EBC America and played for the championship. The funny thing about it is that I was recently watching it. We went to the championship game and lost against Skip To My Lou (Rafer Alston) and Kareem Reid.
What do you remember about The Blackout game?
It was myself, LeBron James, Eddy Curry…Shaq was our hidden star. It was crazy because you think It’s New York the light’s will be back on in a few minutes. I remember like it was yesterday—Jay, Beyoncé was there. We all met up at 40/40 and later that day we headed up to the radio station.
You played in both New York street games and Seattle street games, Which city has the most competitive games in your opinion?
I think Seattle and every other place is trying to continue to come up. New York is legendary. They had it for so long and I wanted to pay homage to that. It’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to play here. It’s nothing like playing for the Knicks and at The Rucker.
Your fellow Seattle native Isaiah Thomas is back playing after his hip injury. What are your thoughts on that?