Q+A: Jamal Crawford
The Trail Blazers guard speaks on the whirlwind season in Portland.
SLAM: Speaking off Twitter, you stay pretty active with your @JCrossover account. Can you talk about what it’s been like for you to connect with Blazers fans in particular through interacting on that social medium?
JC: It’s amazing to me that I can reach over 80,000 people with one tweet, like a text message, and I can get whatever I want out there. So I always keep it positive. The Blazers fans in particular, they’re great, always passionate, always supportive no matter what, it’s just amazing to me. They were also instrumental in getting me to come here as well. Every time I would turn on Twitter and get on there, all I’d see is come to Rip City, come to the Blazers, and that also makes you feel good. Especially with all the stuff I’m doing in the community, it’s great to be able to reach so many people with just one message.
SLAM: Can you talk about that community work, and the Jamal Crawford Foundation in the Seattle area specifically? How much does that mean to you, and what are some of the things your foundation does?
JC: It means everything to me, and we do so many different things. The foundation started with the goal of making healthy, and well-rounded young adults. So for us, it started with basketball programs, we did library upgrades, haircuts for kids, and we do back to school backpack giveaways too. We have all the kids come out and we get their backpacks fully loaded with erasers, pens, markers; everything a child would need is in those backpacks, so it takes that stress off the parents. Then we do a basketball camp later that same day.
We also do a barbecue for everybody on the Fourth of July, we have trainers at all the Seattle public schools, athletic trainers at every high school, and now we took it a step further where we put defibrillators in all the Seattle public schools as well.
We just try to do everything that’s geared towards the kids in our community, and that’s what it’s really about for me. I do so much work in the summer that it’s just like during the season when basketball is my focus. I love playing basketball, and in the summer this is what I love to do as well. I just love to give back, and we’ll continue to do that.
SLAM: When did you start your charity, and how many people do you have working for you?
JC: The Foundation was started in 2005. Matt Wade is the Executive Director of the Foundation, and I have Kenny Walker who’s also really big in the community work we’re doing as well. He was instrumental in me meeting President Obama when he came back to Seattle a couple of months ago. He had a luncheon for him with me being directly involved. I’m also working with the mayor on the inner city, and we were recently given the keys to the cities of Seattle and Renton (WA), which was a humbling honor for us.
We’re doing a school program right now called “Be Here, Get There” too, which is a program that encourages students to get to class on time. The thing about students is, once you miss a week of school, two weeks of school, you’ll never catch up. They get behind and then become too embarrassed to go back.
Kids are smart nowadays, so once you get there, you’re going to learn, you’re going to be involved in class and do the work. So I work all over Seattle, all over the community and we have a ton of people who help us get kids to camps, and we have a lot of volunteers as well. It’s just about building up our community and a lot of people are involved in it.
SLAM: What are your thoughts moving forward as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers with the trade deadline now behind you, and what would your message be to Blazers fans about the future?
JC: Moving forward with Portland, I think our fans have really been elite. You know sometimes an organization needs to take a step backwards to go forwards, and I think this team is going to be set up pretty well by having a lot of draft picks in the future and a lot of cap space. I think our fans should really be excited about that, as well as be excited by Coach Canales.
SLAM: Can you talk about that transition from coach Nate McMillan to interim head coach Kaleb Canales?
JC: As far as Coach Nate is concerned, you have to respect what he did for this organization. He took them from quote unquote “The Jail Blazers” to respectability, to a Playoff contender, and he’s been named the Coach of the Year in the process. You have to tip your hat to him. But when you lose, coaches can get fired, players get traded, and we saw that at the trade deadline.
Now, going forward, with Coach K (Kaleb), I’ve been around some really great coaches including Coach McMillan, Larry Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens and all these coaches. I think he’s really prepared, and I know he’ll make a great coach.
I think him being here is refreshing for the guys as far as him being young, knowing how to interact with guys and he’s always prepared because he came from a video coordinator background. So from that I think he’ll have a lot of success. He’s grateful for the opportunity, doesn’t take it for granted, so for us in the future, I think we can continue to get better under Coach K.