Nothing in life is promised. The same holds true for the NBA. Jamal Crawford was drafted eighth overall in 2000 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers after one year with the University of Michigan. Since then, he has put on seven different uniforms. He, unlike most players drafted that year, has carved a niche for himself in the NBA as a sixth man, even winning Sixth Man of the Year in the 2009-2010 season.
I caught up with Crawford in Dallas as his Los Angeles Clippers team prepared to take on the Dallas Mavericks. Crawford was asked to change his role from sixth man to starter due to injuries to J.J. Redick, even before Chris Paul got hurt later in the game. He talked bout his role in the NBA and with the Clippers, his new head coach Doc Rivers, plus advice for upcoming athletes.
Tell me a little bit about this team, this season, and the differences from last year?
It’s definitely a different team, obviously. We got a new coach. We got half a new team with players and incorporating everybody getting comfortable and stuff. We still have not played a game with everybody healthy, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.
(At that time Chris Paul was not injured)
Does it make a difference having a coach with championship ring?
Oh Yeah, everything is different. The foundation is different. I think to be a championship contender you have somebody that has been there before. He’s been there, conquered the mountain, and been back. Every time he speaks everybody listens. He has everybody’s attention.
Do you feel like you have the same role on this team? People always look for you to be that sixth man, that spark off the bench, do you feel like you have the same role?
Yeah, I feel like I have the same role. I go about it a little differently, but for the most part, night in and night out it’s the same thing. Obviously I’m starting now because we have people injured, but for the most part it’s the same.
What advice would you give anyone looking to make it to your level?
Just to work hard. You can be successful if you make it to the NBA, or if your a head strength and conditioning coach, or behind the scenes doing what you do. It’s a lot of ways to still be successful and still be around the game. Keep working hard and don’t worry about the naysayers, don’t worry about the haters, just follow your dream and give it your best shot.
Crawford has made the most of his opportunities. He has turned his natural abilities into a 13-year professional career amassing over $79 million in the process. He proves that hard work pays off.