Smile when you're down.

by Jake Appleman

You can’t knock the Knicks for making the moves they’ve made. But take a few moments to appreciate, in his own way, one of the men that has walked out of that door.

The beauty of the Jamal Crawford Oven (JCO) is its sheer unpredictability. It heats up randomly, like it has a mind of its own, probably because baking cookies is not a game. When the temperature rises, you can feel it palpably running through him, from shot to shot, possession to possession.

For anyone that wished modernized NBA Jam fire burned in the mecca–and there are plenty of us that grew up on John Starks–Crawford actualized that fantasy, except when he didn’t. Rhythm and blues. And then rhythm again. Deftly pulling the string on pretty pull up from ’18, but only after some unnecessary but pleasing shake-and-bake. Or maybe a sick ball fake in the lane before a pretty flip. Or a killer crossover preceding a runner off glass. Or a sweet pass to Eddy Curry because Eddy Curry was lonely. The list goes on.

Jamal Crawford–and I say this as a compliment–served as a garden variety anti-depressant to the MSG faithful, working well when the circumstances allowed, but only easing the pain some of the time. Off the court, Crawford also acted as an oven of sorts, bringing necessary warmth and comfort to a local media horde stuck in a Cold War. For many, his corner locker was consistent shelter from the storm. (Note: Not only is Crawford’s exit ironic–classy guy leaving once the turbulence is starting to lessen–it’s endemic of the times on a larger scale: how many people in this economy, finally comfortable with their job description and employer, have had to relocate simply because of business?)

Like the erratic, enjoyable oven that his volume scoring and pretty passing metaphorically define, Crawford brought a necessary positive energy to the most dour era in New York Knickerbocker history. That shouldn’t be forgotten as he heads west to help like-minded gunners form a cesspool of basketball erratica around a seven foot Latvian stork.

As the roster landscape of the Knicks continues to shift, remember the rare nights and memories that were different, when the man whose game resembles an oven cooked up the occasional mini-miracle on 34th street.