Jordan Crawford is a 31 year old 193cm guard from Detroit, Michigan that will play for Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia-VTB) in the 2020-2021 season recently completed his 9th professional season and first in Germany with Brose Bamberg. He played parts of 6 seasons in the NBA with teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans amassing a total of 281 games. He also spent 3 seasons in China and in the 2015.2016 put up staggering stats with the TianJin Steel (China-CBA) playing 26 games averaging (43.1ppg), 6.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 83.3%. He also spent time in the G-League with Ft Wayne and Grand Rapids and in Israel with Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Winner League). He played a season at Indiana (NCAA) and a season with Xavier (NCAA) before getting drafted by the New Jersey Nets (NBA,1rd (27). He spoke to germanhoops.com before the deciding game against the EWE Baskets which Bamberg lost ending their season in Germany.
Jodan thanks for talking with germanhoops.com. What kind of experience has it been for you playing the BBL tournament? Has the whole atmosphere in the hotel living with other players remind you of your days at Xavier?
The Munich tournament has remined me of the AAU trips back in the day. It has been interesting to see the players approach me here on and off the court. My focus here has been to win games and to play off natural instincts.
Have you bumped into Rickey Paulding? He is a Michigan native like you? Did you enjoy your first battle against him?
It was fun playing against him. We went to the same high school, but he had already left when I went there. I looked up to him big time. There are so many talented players out there that never played in the NBA, but I always felt like Rickey’s game fit the NBA. He definitely deserved to play in the NBA. I remember seeing the way he played against D Wayde in the NCAA tournament. He already showed then the amazing skill set that he had. It’s also great that he is still playing at a high level today despite his age.
Archie Goodwin stated to me that you shock hands with him in the hotel. Is he a guy you feel you could get closer to in Munich given the time?
I think that the Munich time has been a great opportunity for guys to get closer. You get to know guys better and just talk about how everyone is doing in these times. He is a great player and Ulm is playing great at the moment.
Before we get back to the BBL tournament talk a little about how you experienced COVID-19 the last months? Did you remain in Germany or head back to the States?
It was disappointing at first how the season was delayed. I had just arrived in Bamberg and was starting to find my rhythm, but then COVID-19 hit. But you just got to role with the punches. I went back home and just stayed in shape. I didn’t think that the league would resume. But I just kept staying in shape. When your 31 years old, you have to stay in shape.
There has been so much suffering, disappointment and sadness all over the world. On top of that so much drama going on in the States with politics and the senseless George Floyd murder. What have you learned during these tough times that has made you stronger as a person?
What made me stronger was seeing how strong the black community was during this time and how they got support from the world through actions and protests. The riots weren’t always seen as a good thing, but I think that the riots showed just how strong the younger generation felt and being able to stand up to the police. Everyone has to be treated equally. That would be best for all. I also became stronger just seeing the support for blacks all around the world. People all over the word got better informed about the situation and came together as one. It has been a real tough time, but the resilience that people have shown has given me courage.
What kind of experience has it been playing for Brose Bamberg? Do you sense like the young Germans are in awe or do you feel like they respect you, but can control their cool with you?
I feel like the young German players have had an eye on me at all times seeing how I go about the game and watching my competitiveness and seriousness for the game. But at the same time every one has kept me sharp especially in practice. I thank the coaching staff and players. I was welcomed with open arms in Bamberg and have been allowed to play my game.
Bamberg is slowly coming into it’s own. There are many title candidates like Munich, Berlin ,Ulm and Ludwigsburg, but how confident is the team that it can go a long way?
We are very confident. We still have been finding ourselves here while competing against good teams. I feel once you get that confidence that we can beat any team.
You have never won a professional title. Are you aware just how close you are with Bamberg in Munich. Winning a title will never be this easy again.
Winning is everything when your competing. For me personally it has always been about striving to make my mark. I never played on teams where we had chances to win a title. The career is short so you have to focus on what is important at the time. We all had preseason legs and couldn’t always do things that we did before, but at this point you can only compete and see what happens.
In the last game against the Fraport Skyliners, 7 Bamberg players scored in double figures. You have been a lethal scorer where ever you have played. Has it been tough being less of a scorer and having no ego but being an unselfish player?
I feel that I have always been an unselfish player. It was just that I was thrown into the role to score. When I was coming off the bench, I had to impact the game so I did that by scoring. Being able to score the ball the way I do, also opens up the floor for my playmaking abilities. I have always been a good scorer and that is what people naturally thought is what I do. I’m always aggressive which helps my scoring.
What has it been like being able to be teammates with Kam Taylor. He is a guy that played in the NCAA 2 and in the German 3rd division 2 years ago. Do you notice him wanting to soak up as much as possible in practice from you?
Yes I have noticed him trying to soak up as much information as possible. He is a very well balanced player. I thought that in the last game before COVID-19 hit, he was at his best when he was as aggressive as I was. Kam can score from anywhere. I remember telling him after the Berlin game that he has to watch the first 5 minutes of the game when he is on the bench in order to know exactly what he has to do when he gets on the court. He can’t be passive, but aggressive and make the defense aware of him. If he can do that then he can open up the floor for all. He is a great all around player and has a big future ahead of him.
Last season you were with the Pelicans (training camp), Alba Berlin (failed medical check), China and Israel. How tough of a season was this for you and what did you learn that made you stronger as a person?
A big strong point in my career has been able to adapt to the environment no matter where I have played. I have never been in one place for more than 2-3 years. I have always performed well where ever I have played. A big problem with players is that they don’t stay their self when they come into a new environment. I will always be Jordan Crawford. When a situation doesn’t work out, you can’t feel sorry for yourself, but need to move on and accomplish the next goal.
Last season you had your first tour of duty in Europe with Ironi Nahariya (Israel-Winner League, playing 4 games. What was your wake up call to being in Europe for first time where you knew that you were very far away from home?
I got to Israel in the middle of the season. It took me like a month to get my legs going. The way communication worked there was my wake up call. I didn’t want to tell something wrong. The communication aspect didn’t work as smooth for me. I wasn’t in top shape, but had to win games at the same time.
You also have played in China 3 times. Americans have told me who have balled there that defense isn’t played there. Is this a league where offensive players like yourself can get extra self confidence and just score score and practice their game? How has your game developed there?
That they don’t play defense in China is a misconception. They do play defense in China. They put athletic Chinese guys on you that will check you full court for 40 minutes. Playing in China is like being back in high school playing. You make the decisions and the team relies on you to score. The league is fun and many Americans have gotten exposed playing there. A lot of guys will get asked to average 30 points and 8 assists. Guys get a lot of freedom. It is the kind off freedom that guys like Damian Lilliard and Steph Curry have with their teams
You last played in the NBA in 2017-2018 and have been away from it the last 2 seasons. Is the NBA still your major goal to get back or do you feel that you saw and made enough money there and now wouldn’t mind staying in Europe to have new experiences?
My goal today is to show how good I am of a player no matter where I’m playing. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the NBA or playing for a high level team in Europe, I just want to show how good I am. I love playing for Brose Bamberg.
In the 2016-2017 season you split time with the Grand Rapids Drive (D-League) playing 37 games: Score-5 (23.5ppg), 3.3rpg, 3.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 55.4%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 87.0%, in Mar.’17 signed at New Orleans Pelicans (NBA) playing 19 game averaging 14.1ppg, 1.8rpg, 3.1apg, FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 76.9%. Did this season show you that there are absolutely no gifts in the NBA and that every season is new and you could always land in the G-League. Does playing in the G-League get annoying when you have been an NBA vet for years?
This season showed how mentally tough I was. It is easy to play in the G-League coming from college, but not as easy coming from the NBA. What separates the great, good and not so good players in the G-League is the mental aspect. It is tough going back to the G-League from the NBA, because there are so many young and hungry players that want to match or better your intensity.
In the 2015-2016 season you had an incredible season with TianJin Steel (China-CBA) playing 26 games: Score-1 (43.1ppg), 6.4rpg, 2.0apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 83.3%. You scored 72 points and 61 points in a game and had 8 games with 50 points or more. How does a lethal scorer like yourself begin to feel when you average 43ppg? Does one get a totally new kind of self confidence?
I wanted to show the States just how good I was. I then went to the D-League. I wanted to get back to the NBA and I had that motivation in China to show how good I was. I was playing for a bad team and put up big numbers.
In the 2014-2015 season you played for Xinjiang Flying Tigers (China-CBA) playing 5 games averaging 29.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.4apg, 2FGP: 53.4%, 3FGP: 36.5%, FT: 82.4%, left in Nov.’14, in Mar.’15 moved to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League) playing 14 games averaging 24.4ppg, 5.7rpg, 4.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 29.4%, FT: 89.6%. You needed no new adjustment period to the D-League) Did you feel like you may have been close to a NBA call up?
I was really proud that season to have been able to help take a .team to the championship I didn’t play as good as I felt I could of, but I learned a lot about myself that season. I had had an eyelid problem in China. I think it was because of stress of being in a new place. I went to the D-League just so I could play again. We barley made the playoffs and then made the final. I feel that I definitely had deserved a NBA call up. I don’t feel like at that time there were too many guys playing better than me. I was not a house hold name and I think that I was too good for my role. I never wanted to be that 13th or 14th guy on the roster. I feel back then guards that was with the Pelicans knew that I was talented and behind them. They were afraid I would take their confidence. I was cut by the Pelicans, because guys were afraid of me. This is what I have had to deal with in my career. I shake up a room when I enter. I just have to accept what can happen. Life hasn’t been bad for me and there are a lot more guys who have had worse times than me so I shouldn’t complain.
In 2013-2014 you split time with the Boston Celtics (NBA) playing 39 games averaging 13.7ppg, 3.1rpg, 5.7apg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 87.3%, in Jan.’14 traded to the Golden State Warriors (NBA) playing 48 games averaging 8.1ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 47.2%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 82.5%. What kind of experience was it playing for head coach Brad Stevens? How do you see his early development coming from a college coach to an NBA coach?
He has a great knowledge of the game. He made a good transition to the NBA once he understood how to win games using the little things and just how long a 48 minute game is. After that there was no stopping him. After I was there, he had guys like Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. I helped show him that he needs a scorer/playmaker. He used to have that slow down game at Butler (NCAA) and teams quickly found their rhythm against him in the NBA. He then learned that he needed a point guard who could control the game. His knowledge of the X &O’s is second to none. He knows how to break down a game and make it simple for a team that isn’t necessarily supposed to win.
You were teammates with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Were there already signs then that the Warriors would be close to NBA stardom and titles?
Yes I did. I wish people would understand how good that team already was then when I was there. Key for the success was Draymond Green. He was already a leader from day 1 even though he didn’t play. That team had so much talent and were playing exciting basketball. Green protected Curry and took in the negative talk. He challenged the negative talk against the team. He always told the team to be focused and had that tough minded side. Curry, Thompson and Green fit so well. Green didn’t want to be the star, but get the rebound and hand the ball off. He had a big IQ and was rather the smart player than having the skill set.
What did your 41 points in 41 minutes in the Warriors win over the Nuggets mean to you? Thompson and Green played a combined 11 minutes and Curry didn’t play. Did it feel like the team belonged to you on this night?
It was great to showcase my talent in that game. I remember feeling that Steph Curry really respected me after that game. It was great being able to play in front of him and other guys who love basketball. Before the game knowing that Curry wouldn’t play, I told myself that I would go out and get 40 points. I showed in this game that I could pick my spots and I became a better player.
Steph Curry also had an impact on you in terms of work ethic and having fun playing the game.
Steph got me in the gym to put up extra shots. When I played for the Wizards, I lived 2 minutes from the practice facility. I never put up extra shots. I just came to work and left. When I got to the Warriors and saw how Steph hit 30 one game and came to practice the next day excited to shoot, it gave me a different mentality and got me locked in.
In the 2012-2013 season you split time with the Washington Wizards (NBA) playing 43 games averaging 13.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.6apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 82.1%, in Feb.’13 signed with the Boston Celtics (NBA) averaging 8.3ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 44.6%, 3PT: 32.5%, FT: 78.2%. Was this a good example that the NBA will always be a business and that a player’s feelings are never important?
I think that players need to know that feelings can never be involved. There was a miscommunication between the Wizards and me the whole time I was there. They had that mentality that they couldn’t win, but I always play wanting to win. Both sides grew impatient of the other. They wanted that I deal with losing, but I made it hard on them not wanting to sit back. I wanted to win badly. I was never against them. The organization didn’t feel like Bradly Beal and I could play together. This also happened with Nick Young. I would have liked to have seen how John Wall, Bradly Beal and I would have played together. I think that if we would have had that opportunity then we would of learned to play well together. All in all my time there was cool. There were so many young players at that time. It was crazy.
What did it mean for you being teammates with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce? What are the 2 most vivid memories you have with them?
KG was a person like no other. When game time came, there was absolutely no more joking around. I never felt comfortable joking around with him. I remember a game against the Knicks. It is obvious when the bench gets hyped off a big dunk, but KG made this rebound and the whole bench got hyped. He was like a monster. It was crazy how hyped we got just off a rebound from him. What I remember about Pierce was that when game time came, he would always show up. When I was there, coach Rivers, Garnett and Pierce were coming to the end of their long run in Boston. I remember that Pierce was so laid back that he wouldn’t always hear what coach said, but when game time came, he was there.
In the 20111-2012 season you played with the Washington Wizards averaging 14.7ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.0apg, FGP: 45.0%, 3PT: 29.2%, FT: 79.3%. You were fortunate to have some real vets on the team with Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, Ronny Turiaf and Andray Blatche and Maurie Evans. What one of these guys had the biggest influence on you that season? What memories do you have of your rookie season and do you remember having to do certain duties for the vets because you were the kid?
It was a shocking experience going form the Hawks locker room to the Wizards locker room. I knew that when I got to Washington that I would finally play. I finally had my chance to show the NBA who I was. Lewis and Evans watched after you
You scored 39 points in a loss to Miami where Lebron James netted 35 points. Do you remember any post game chatter with James?
No no, I had no chatter with Lebron after that game. And we never had any after that either. I don’t really know why. I think it had to do with my dunk on him at a summer camp. I think that he thought I was a player that was always coming after him
You have had many great games in your career, but where do you rank your 21/10/11 game in the win over Cleveland?
That was one of my good games. John Wall had been suspended. I started that game and it was great to be able to show my overall game and that I could make my way in the NBA.
You began your NCAA career at Indiana (NCAA) in 2007-2008 averaging 9.7ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.0%, 3Pts: 36.6%, FT: 74.6%. How tough was this season mentally with the Kalvin Sampson controversary? What did you learn from this season?
That season was tough. I learned how hard it could be to put aside what had happened. I had to play for another coach. We had a good season, but it was hard to maintain the level. We thought that we could, but it was impossible.
You had a great last year at Xavier (NCAA) averaging 20.5ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.9apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.2%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 77.3%. You led the team to the NCAA Sweet 16 losing to Kansas State. You scored 32 points in a tough 2OT loss. Many called it the game of the year. Is this a game you have been able to watch again over the years?
I actually finally watched that game again not too long ago. It was hard watching that game again. I remember having so many opportunities to win the game. I should of made more shots.
You had real special teammates with guys like Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons, Kenny Frease or Jamel Mclean. Despite being there only a year did some of these guys become life long friends?
Oh yes of course. I talk to Holloway and Lyons all the time. Holloway was one of those players that could always get your team going. When he knew I was playing my best he would get me the ball. Even when I wasn’t playing well, he got me the ball. Lyons was a real energy player and one of the most talented players I have ever seen. Both are my guys. I wish that I could of played another year at Xavier. It has been dope seeing how my teammates careers have gone. It has also been dope seeing how well Jamel Mclean’s career has gone.
You became very well known at a young age for dunking over Lebron James. Is that something you would rib him later during your battles in the NBA?
I feel like Lebron always thought about this experience. He got bad press for it. He never talked to me on the court. Despite this happening, I always remained humble. I was never a guy who used this as an opportunity to say look what I did. I never have been someone that lived on one thing. At that time social media was just getting big. The Lebron dunk was good and bad for me. Nobody knew me then, but when the dunk happened, everybody knew me. I always saw myself as being a humble guy and had to prove myself. But after that dunk everybody knew who I was and I felt that I didn’t have to prove myself anymore.
How did head coach Chris Mack help groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He always challenged me to win as the go to guy. He made me more vocal. I also remember when we were off to a bad start, he said we can be 8-5 without you. That challenged me to want to win more.
Who was the toughest player you battled against in the NCAA that made the NBA?
Jacob Pullen. He should be in NBA. I like his game. He can really play.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
MarShon Brooks, Kevin Garnett, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore. Which 4 heads would you pick past or present?
Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas (Pistons), Kobe Bryant, Lebron James
Where were you when you found out about the death of Kobe Bryant? What kind of an effect did he have on your growing up and do you have any story of him and you on the court?
I was in my living room. My mom called me and told me and I couldn’t believe it. I was so hurt and just said why. He had such a big inspiration on me. I remember him being so young and so confident already. I remember his dunk at the allstar game. I was 6 or 7 and he was 16 or 17, but you put yourself in his shoes. I remember playing against him with the Wizards. I remember the pregame talk and coach saying ok Wall has Fischer and Crawford has Kobe. It sounded so fake hearing these words. I thought that my teammates would all laugh. At that moment I remember being in my living room watching him play and now I was about to guard him.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched was Pretty Woman. I think it was very good. I knew that it was the favorite movie for girls. It was good to see for the first time. I have it on my movie channel now as we speak.
Thanks Jordan for the chat.