Our visit to Seattle has been really productive for the SLAMonline video movement. After a long day of work on Saturday, our last night in Seattle would mostly likely have been spent watching bad movies re-run on the SciFi Network before an early call at the Seattle/Tacoma Airport.
And then, Jamal Crawford called and wanted to hang out with us.
Early that day, Sheridan and I started gathering footage and interviews for various video projects we are working on. We wanted to get as much of Seattle’s basketball scene on camera as possible. We made a call to one of our local contacts and followed the trail from there.
First, we met with players, coaches and parents at the Seattle Rotary Boys and Girls Club. The gym is home to Seattle’s Rotary Select AAU team. A number of kids came up to us, all below the age of 12, asking if we were in Seattle to because Jamal Crawford was holding some type of event at his alma mater Rainer Beach High School.
At first the Rotary kids said it was a clinic, but when we got there Crawford was running his very own “Jamal Crawford Summer League,” a pro-am. The league helped to raise money to benefit the school. Crawford got Reebok to supply the entire league with uniforms and there was an entire galaxy of stuff to choose from at the snack table.
Crawford played pretty smooth and the crowd cheered him on hard. One woman clapped nearly every time he touched the ball. He helped his team through some lead changes in the second half and attempted some pretty sick dunks in the closing seconds of the game. The event was well done and you really got the sense Crawford wanted to give people a good show, a cool summer afternoon out of the house and the sun.
We spoke to long-time Rainer Beach High School Head Coach, Mike Bethea, and he arranged for us to interview Crawford after the game ended. For Sheridan and I, who both grew up in New York City, it was pretty cool to see arguably the Knicks best player live and in a different environment from the NBA.
True to his post-game interviews on the MSG Netowrk, Crawford is charismatic and polite simultaneously. We talked for a minute about the Sonics, his changing role with the Knicks, and other Seattle hoops history.
Once we were done, he asked if we had plans for later that night. We weren’t sure, so we asked him if he had any suggestions. He told us to take down his number and that he’d text us that night. It was a nice gesture, but we weren’t going to hold him to it.
On a side note – I went to Jack In The Box for the first time in my life. I must say it reminded me a lot of Burger King, especially because of the Sourdough bacon-cheeseburger I had. In any case, it was a good look on the ride back to Seattle.
When we hit the Holiday Inn we were pretty washed out. We’d done our fair share of running around that day. Driving around a place neither of us has ever been before without a GPS was enough stress to go ballistic. The damn kid from the Alamo failed to include that in his “upgrade.”
Right as we were about to take a break from watching Lou Diamond Philips fighting off a gang of hyper-reproducing aliens to watch the gold game between Spain and the U.S.A, Crawford sent us a text asking us to ride out to his crib about 45 minutes away from where we bunked for the weekend.
The crib was gigantic. Crawford said he thinks the guy who owned Abercrombie & Fitch was the original owner and had the house built for himself, but found it to be much too big. As we drove through the gate and around the circled driveway past the Dobermans, we were in awe of Crawford’s estate. Through the front doors and up the stairs, in and out of various turns, I started to get dizzy.
We came to a bookshelf and Crawford turned some type of switch and the bookshelf became a door and opened into a small screening area with a TV the size of taxicab. We took our big leather seats and caught the second half of America’s gold finish in Olympic hoops.
It was fun to get excited about the “Redeem Team,” with somebody who actually plays against and, in some cases, guards some of the guys playing. For Crawford, a Knick who lives kind of secluded when home in Washington, it was like bringing in New York City fans to watch a basketball game with him. It created a cool dynamic for kickin’ it with someone.
After the game, Crawford took us out back where he showed us the full court he’s got set-up in the backyard. The colors match those of the Rainer Beach High School Vikings high school team but it read “Jamal Crawford” on the half court circle.
Next to the court is an indoor pool with a huge TV screen where Crawford says he watched movies and fights from the water all the time. While he says he’s only had one big party there, Brandon Roy lives around the corner and they kick it a lot.
He has an eight-car garage, but Crawford has a few more cars than that. Khalid actually wrote a cool feature about Crawford’s car collection for RIDES magazine a few years ago. Other than his big house and cars, I think people might be surprised at how reserved he really is.
After a long summer on the road (and I’m heading out the door to PA as I write this), meeting Crawford and going to his home was an obvious highlight. However, it was great to experience so much of the Seattle hoops scene and take in their city game.
Sometimes we New Yorkers get carried away with how official our own hoops culture is. However, there is really no getting away from New York.