If they gave out Sixth Man of the Year awards at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School back in the day, it is a given that Jamal Crawford would have grabbed every single one. But instead he was busy starting, winning a state championship in 1998 and eventually having his jersey retired.
Ah, those were the days. Yet for Crawford, those days in Seattle suddenly come back to mind now that he is playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and making an early season case to claim his second NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.
I haven't felt this comfortable since high school. I feel like I have a home. I want to be here as long as they want me here,” Crawford said after the Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night, 103-90.
Yes, those Portland Trail Blazers. The same Rip City where Crawford called home last season in a brutal year that saw Crawford shoot a career-low 30 percent from 3-point and average 13.9 points per game -- his lowest scoring total since the 2002-03 season when Crawford played for the Chicago Bulls.
The Crawford-Blazers experiment was nothing short of pitiful, leaving the boo-birds to circle around the Rose Garden as Portland went 28-38 last season.
They were back on Thursday night. Their target this time: Jamal Crawford.
Crawford scored 25 points off of the bench in the win, with both DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul putting up 21 points apiece for the Clippers. Crawford -- who went 9-for-17 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line -- entered the game averaging 21.8 points per game and against Portland he did something he failed to achieve during his time with Blazers.
I think anybody that was a part of last year deserved to get booed," he said. "We were all in it together, it wasn't just me or whoever else that they want to boo when they come here. We're all in it together. But I did take less to come here last year. It was something I chose to do. I don't have any regrets or hard feelings towards them. They are doing what they are supposed to do for the team."
"Maybe the timing was weird…It was a weird situation because we started out No. 1 in the West, first two weeks of the season. Then we hit some bumps in the road, kind of went downhill. I was a part of that. I'll take that [booing] on the chin and I won't look bad at the Portland fans. I'm a Northwest guy.... No hard feelings, no regrets.
It is hard to have regrets when you are now playing on a team that is 4-2 on the season and boast an impressive roster of Paul, Jordan, and Blake Griffin and actually makes Los Angeles forget about the woeful Lakers. Crawford has not been shy about saying that he would not mind calling Los Angeles home for a while, and it’s clear to see that he is comfortable with the Clippers.
It is probably also comforting that Crawford silenced those Rose Garden jeers in his first game back to Portland.