Q+A: Jamal Crawford
The Trail Blazers guard speaks on the whirlwind season in Portland.
SLAM: People said that maybe you didn’t want to play the PG spot, that maybe you only wanted to play SG under Coach McMillan. Were you comfortable playing either position, and are you comfortable in either role moving forward?
JC: Honestly, I’m a scorer to the core, so I’m more comfortable playing SG. But I’m really about winning, and when you’re really about being a team-first guy, you deal with that. When he (Coach McMillan) wanted me to play PG, I said, OK, and I didn’t complain about it or anything. I said, OK, if it’s best for us as a team I’ll do it. I’ll sacrifice less scoring and not be worried about it. If that’s what gives us the best chance to win I’ll do my best. He moved me around, he played me at the 1, he played me at 2, he started me, I came off the bench, I never complained. I was like, OK, no problem, whatever you need me to do because for me it’s about winning and making any sacrifice the team needs me to make. I’m a team-first guy, and that’s just how I’ve always been, and will continue to be.
SLAM: With everything that’s happened this season, what is it like for you guys to still find yourselves only two or three games out of the Western Conference Playoffs right now?
JC: That’s crazy to me, because it seems like, everything we’ve been through in this short season was crazy already. Even if we didn’t make any trades, no coaching change, the short season already feels weird. So then, for us to be three games out of the eighth spot with 20 games left, it’s like wow. We did all this, and we’re still right here, well let’s go for it. I really believe that we can get hot down the stretch and put ourselves in a position to be there down to the end.
SLAM: What’s it been like to have a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge as your teammate this season, and what type of options can he create for you guys in that stretch run here?
JC: I like our options. LaMarcus has gone from one of the best young players in the NBA, to one of the best players in the NBA period. Any age, any position, he brings it every single night. He’s a guy who’s willing to listen, willing to get better, willing to take the big shot, but he’s also willing to say, “Hey this guy has it going tonight, so let’s go there.” So he’s a team-first guy as well, and I think that’s why we always clicked, we always respected each other’s talent and we’ve also always respected the way each other goes about things. So for me, coming down that stretch run, I really feel like we have a shot, because I think we have ways to score in any situation.
SLAM: Brandon Roy made his first post-retirement appearance at the Rose Garden a few days ago on your birthday vs the Bucks. Can you talk about your relationship with Brandon, how he’s doing now, and how it was to have him in the building?
JC: Brandon is like a brother to me. I’ve known Brandon since he was a sophomore in high school. I’ve been there for him, he’s been there for me, for the last 10 years. His family and my family is family, that’s how close we’ve become. So everybody is asking me on Twitter and in the media when is Brandon coming to a game? And I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t want to pressure him to come to a game and that he’ll come to a game when he’s ready.
So, me and Brandon talk everyday anyways. When I was in New York, he was in Portland, we’d watch each other’s games, so when he walked into the arena I had talked to him all day anyway because it was my birthday. So when he walked in I started busting up laughing. I was like, You didn’t mention this [laughs].
And for him to come on my birthday I thought that was special. We hung out at dinner for a few hours afterwards and it was great, but I was happier that the people of Portland got a chance to see him for the first time.
For Brandon, I think he’s enjoying not having the pressure of being an athlete, especially at the level he was playing at every single night, and I think he’s enjoying that part of it. He doesn’t have to be Brandon Roy every single night, he can just be a guy hanging out with his family.
I also think Brandon still loves to play basketball, though. We were working out before the season started, and Brandon looked like that three-time All-Star. If you walked into the gym and didn’t think about his knee injury, you’d say, “OK, I see why he’s a three-time All-Star.” So when he had his physical, the news just caught all of us off guard because he was playing so well.
SLAM: Overall, his spirits are up though; he’s feeling good these days away from the court you’d say?
JC: Yeah, he’s doing really good. It’s almost like when you play all season long, you can come home in the summer and decompresses, breathe a little bit. You’re always in that competitor mode and always worried about the next practice, having to get better, and that goes on forever. So I think right now he’s chilling a little bit, and who knows what the future holds. But for right now he’s taking a deep breath, and I think we’ll see him again in some capacity.
SLAM: Can you touch on what the future holds for you regarding next season?
JC: I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, like I said. But even if I did opt-out, it doesn’t mean I want to leave Portland. It just means that I want the long-term security of a multi-year contract. I want to be able to be secure as far as, “Hey, I know I’m going to be in a place for four or five years so I don’t have to move my family.” I don’t want to be somewhere one year, then I have to move, I’m tired of doing that like the last couple of years. I just want some long-term security wherever I pick.
SLAM: No offense, I know your Michigan Wolverines did lose already, so with them out, who do you have winning the NCAA Tournament?
JC: [Laughs] I don’t watch college enough to know what everybody else is doing, but I do think Kentucky will win it. I think Kentucky from top-to bottom is the most talented team out there. Coach Cal will continue to get those guys to play hard, and play together. He knows how those wars are, so I think I’ll take Kentucky.
Special Thanks to @SportsMediaWrld and Tzvi Grossman for helping coordinate this interview.