Last week, in his interview on Howard Beck’s “Full 48” podcast, Jamal Crawford couldn’t be pinned down on the issue of whether (assuming things go well) he’d like to join the Nets for an anticipated title run next season. He said he hasn’t thought about next season, that he learned a “tough lesson” waiting for call that never came until the Nets signed him for the “bubble.”
He spoke about living “in the moment” and his “love” for the organization, but wouldn’t commit. But in an interview with Steve Serby of the Post, Crawford went just a little further. He said joining his friends Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be “unbelievable” for me.
“Oh, that would be unbelievable for me ’cause those are two of my closest friends in the league, that I haven’t actually played with, but just have genuine friendship. I’m just trying to stay in the moment, be thankful for this opportunity.”
And yes, he thinks that a Nets team with KD and Kyrie “absolutely” is a championship contender.
“[T]hese guys are two superpowers coming together with a host of really, really, really good players. They have a real friendship and I think that will be at the root of everything. I think they’ll be able to work through anything just on their true friendship they have. And there’ll be good and bad times, right, during the course of a season? Whatever it is, they’ll figure it out.”
In general, his message to Nets fans was simple: “For now, stay with us, and the future is so, so bright.”
As for those “really, really, really good players,” Crawford offered some thumbnail sketches of a couple of his new teammates...
“The first thing that comes to mind is he will be a star big man for years to come. And it won’t be the traditional 20-and-10-type star big man. It may be 14 or 15 and 10 and five blocks and two steals. I think he’s a prototypical big man in today’s NBA. He’s so young, he’s so curious, he’s asking questions, he’s so thoughtful.”
“His humility. He’s always asking questions, he’s always trying to learn. His work ethic … (Tuesday) night we were working out at 11 o’clock at night. He can do some of everything on the court. He’s unselfish. I really believe he’s a cross between Penny Hardaway and Joe Johnson.”
Crawford also offered an endorsement of Jacque Vaughn.
“I really, really like him, I like his approach, I like his energy, I like how he conducts business, I like how he knows how to sprinkle in some fun. Everybody on this team knows he cares.”
HOWEVER, Crawford was not so enthusiastic about his former team, the Knicks, hiring his former coach, Tom Thibodeau. Serby asked why he opted out of his contract with Minnesota after one year under Thibs. In some circles, his comments would come under the heading of “damning by faint praise” or worse. Here’s his response when Serby asked about how he thought Thibs would do in his new job.
“Obviously being familiar with that market, I think he’ll be prepared, I think he’ll build the culture, and I think he’ll bring strong leadership. They’ll be very businesslike, for sure.”
As for why he opted out of that $4.5 million deal —after winning “Teammate of the Year” and the T’Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in a generation...
“Even though we made the playoffs, it wasn’t an enjoyable environment for me. I’ve talked to guys who have really enjoyed the whole situation playing for Thibs. You just have to ask, I guess, the people that played for him multiple years.“
Crawford also reiterated what he told Beck about his personal experiences dealing with racial bias, whether it’s police or fellow passengers when sitting in first class.
“Even me to this day, my wife always says this — when I’m driving a car, and the police are around, she says I tense up, and I really do. I have a license, I have registration, everything is good, but it’s like just the fact that at a certain point, sometimes they can do whatever they want, and say, “Oh this happened, or this didn’t happen, or this guy tried to draw for a gun.” All of those things play on my mind, and they always have and no amount of money or fame or anything could ever change that for me personally.
“Even as a younger man, flying first class sometimes, right, people look, and kinda get that feeling when they’re walking to their seats or when they sit down, just that feeling almost like, “What are you doing here?” It’s a real thing, and that’s just on a smaller level.”
There’s a lot more there, as there always is with Serby interviews. Crawford is Friday vs. the Magic as the Nets performance team tries to build up his conditioning. Like so much about Crawford, he’s unique. And that’s a good thing.
- Jamal Crawford talks Nets future, Tom Thibodeau, Kobe Bryant’s death - Steve Serby - New York Post