Jordan Crawford is firmly set on my list of top-5 favorite NBA players ever, and only about half of that is because of the way he plays the game. Maybe it's his "Steez" (which also doubles as his extra persona). Maybe it's his honest social media presence. Maybe it's because he dunked on LeBron James so hard that Nike worked overtime to get rid of the footage.Maybe it's his carefree attitude in interviews. Maybe it's because everything about this guy is so fun (I mean, seriously. Watch this and try not to smile. I dare you).
And he's back! After falling out of the NBA for a few years, Jordan Crawford is finally back where he belongs (and he really does belong here) in the NBA after signing a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. This article has absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars except for the fact that I'm watching a Star Wars marathon on TNT right now (DVR'd), and it inspired me to think of a Star Wars-related title. This is Jordan Crawford's fifth NBA team, and after being in China for a while, he's ready to strike back and make basketball fun again.
Some Steez History
My love for all things Jordan Crawford-related go back to his existence in a very exclusive club: role players I traded for in NBA 2K11-12 's Association Mode that actually ended up on the Boston Celtics in real life. Other players on this list include Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, Jerryd Bayless, Evan Turner at one point (if I only I had known . . .), and Brandon Bass (a throw-in for when I traded for Dwight Howard. Good times). This exclusive group was my pride and joy as they joined one by one just for the glory of the tweet that I could send out. Usually something along the lines of, "Yo I totally CALLED this two years ago in NBA 2K11!" It was a simpler time.
Anyway, I really liked what I had seen from Crawford in his few matchups against the Celtics that year after he had been traded from Atlanta to Washington. He scored the ball with ease, and with Boston having a weak bench at the time, I figured he'd be a good match for my 2K Celtics. Fast-forward to after Rajon Rondo's ACL tear in the 2012-13 season. The Celtics needed a point guard, and starting Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee together just wasn't cutting it. I knew what needed to be done, and for once, Danny Ainge actually agreed with me.
Doc Rivers didn't trust him that much, so he played about 21 minutes off the bench down the stretch of that season. Doc didn't see what I saw in Crawford, but eye knew what we had in Steez. He's a true scorer, and he makes getting buckets look easy. This game (sorry for the low quality link) in particular showed me what he could do to help the team, and I wish Doc had paid more attention. With a team that struggled to score, starting Steez seemed like the natural move. Rivers disagreed until it was too late. We couldn't score the ball, and Crawford was playing less than 10 minutes a game in the playoffs. Sad!
A New Hope
Enter Brad Stevens. See, Brad is the complete opposite of Doc. If he likes you, he's almost too trusting. I mean, look at all of the minutes Phil Pressey played. Sheesh. In any case, in a year when the Celtics were "tanking," (they weren't tanking; they were just really collectively bad at basketball), Crawford's minutes elevated to 30 minutes per game. For a team once again struggling to score, Crawford provided a much-needed boost on that end. The Celtics even won a few games because of it! A few notables:
- That time the Celtics obliterated New York
- His triple-double against the Cleveland Cavaliers
- His first-half demolition of the Denver Nuggets on National TV followed by his game-sealing three to send them packing
Watching these highlights, you'll see how fun he is. Something that I had no idea was a thing was how great of a passer Steez is. In his time in Boston with Stevens, Steez averaged 5.7 assists to go along with 13.7 points. He really got everyone involved on that end of the floor while still being a threat to score. He also was the only player that knew how to dribble properly, so there's that. Crawford even pulled down a career-high 3.1 rebounds per game, and he was getting to the free-throw line at a career-high rate, shooting 87%. His time in Boston showed that when given minutes, Crawford can do plenty of good things to help a basketball team win games, especially in the right role.
Obviously, there are times when his inner Steez comes out and he can't help but to jack up a shot over triple-team coverage in transition, but he's also capable of being a team-first guy who creates opportunities for teammates out of thin air with awe-inspiring passes. Yes, Crawford can be a gunner without a conscience, but he also can be a threat to generate points in other ways when needed.
Above everything else, between his flashy no-look passes, his difficult (but entertaining to watch) fadeaway jumpers, his fancy dribble package, and his aura of a guy playing pickup basketball, Steez is entertaining. He's so much fun to watch, and that's why these last few years in the NBA without him have felt a little empty deep down.
From Steez to Sizzle
Rejoice, fellow Steez fans! And for those new to this hype train, welcome aboard; there's plenty of room and coffee on the table in the corner. Hopefully, Pelicans fans treat him like the gem he is for both his on and off-court contributions. Jordan Crawford still has plenty to offer NBA teams as an offensive spark plug off the bench, especially in a place like New Orleans. They desperately need shooting from the wing. Hopefully Steez leaves a lasting impression and can stick around the league a bit longer this time. The NBA is better with him than without him.
Oh, and he doesn't go by Steez anymore. I still prefer Steez because you can't separate a man from his Steez. It's who he is, and my fondest Boston memories of him are attached to that moniker. What does he call himself now?
"I'm 'Sizzle.' When I land on the pan, I pop. You know that's all sizzle."
How can you not love this guy?
For more on Jordan "Steez" Crawford, check out this exclusive interview that the venerable Yama Hazheer conducted back in 2014: http://www.hoopsinquirer.com/2014/01/a-closer-look-at-jordan-crawford/