As they enter the sixth NBA season without the Supersonics, Seattle basketball fans are preparing for hibernation. Seattleites look to sleep off another NBA hangover after the city of Sacramento persevered to block a move to Seattle and keep the Kings. As time moves on, basketball in Seattle seems bleak.
Supersonics fans should remain optimistic and embrace an active supporting role for the league.
I said it. It is time to stop crying about what happened in the past and look toward the future. In the meantime, Seattle fans need to get behind former Rainier Beach alum Jamal Crawford and his current team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jamal Crawford and other NBA players who played in the Jamal Crawford/Seattle Bastketball ProAm are well aware of how starved this city is for professional basketball. Players such as Tyreke Evans, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge came to put on a show for locals. The fact that Jamal organized visits from some of the NBA’s best is reason enough to get behind him and his team. More stars are expected to attend next summer. Believe it or not, Jamal has a keen eye on the Twittersphere and is observant to whom the people want to see next.
Giving back to our community is important to Jamal. He shared this a while back, "Kids who are eleven and twelve years old, have Kevin Durant as their favorite player. The only place they have seen him is TV or Xbox. It hasn’t been in a live and in person situation. It is a credit to all those guys coming here. They wanted to be here. They understand Seattle is a great city and we miss our basketball team. We will continue to do this until we get a team back."
Proceeds for the ProAm were donated to the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club as well as to the inner city youth from Jamal’s foundation. He sponsors different basketball camps held around the city during his offseason.
Think back to the days of attending a camp as a kid. How often was the sponsoring player in attendance? Jamal attends every single day and almost every hour of the camp. South Seattle hoopers have come to know him very well with the renovation efforts of the Rainier Beach gym and Liberty Park. Both are now known as "Jamal Crawford Court."
Local media have also recognized Jamal’s efforts in giving back to our community. A recent feature story written by Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times said, "Of all the NBA players Seattle has produced since the late 1990s, Crawford is unrivaled when it comes to his combination of accomplishment, longevity, accessibility and willingness to give back. Seattle hoops stars are taught to be civic-minded, and all of them stay connected to their city, but no one is as committed as Crawford, now a sixth-man scoring machine for the Los Angeles Clippers."
Jamal openly admitted that his "first year playing in Los Angeles was as fun as playing in high school." If it weren’t for a strong second half of the season by J.R. Smith, Crawford would have won his second 6th Man of the Year award. His 16.5 points per game scoring average was the second highest in the league for a non-starter and good for third on his team.
Love for Crawford's game transcends our region. People from all over the world find Jamal’s game entertaining and showtimesque. Seriously, can you name a player 6’5" or taller with better handles?
Former And 1 star the "Professor" was very complimentary of Shake n’ Bake (Crawford's signature behind the back dribble followed by the between the legs crossover). Seattle fans should tune in to the King of the four-point play and his team and root for them in battle. Comcast Sportsnet Northwest featured an article from 2011 after Jamal broke Reggie Miller's four-point-play record Crawford converting on 4-point plays .
Take a look at this video to see the handles - Jamal Crawford's ProAm Mixtape.
Seattle fans: How do you suppose Seattle might be able to get proxy revenge on the Thunder and other rivals like Blazers, Lakers and now the Kings? Last season, the Clippers went 4-0 against our archenemy the Lakers and new enemy Sacramento Kings; 3-1 versus our Northwest rivals from the south; and winless in three games against the Thunder. The road through the Western Conference will go through OKC. How much sweeter would it be to see Clay Bennett’s reaction after the Clippers stand victorious and punch their ticket through the Western Conference Playoffs after taking down OKC?
Many NBA experts have the Clippers penciled in as one of the teams slated to win the Western Conference. If joining the Clippers bandwagon is still unsettling, think about these comparisons. Their exciting brand of basketball is reminiscent to the mid 1990s Supersonics - the originators of Lob City. Gary Payton and Chris Paul share commonalities outside being drafted in the top five of their respected drafts. Oddly enough, in the 1994-95 season before the Sonics reached the finals, the Glove averaged 2.5 steals per game. CP3 averaged 2.4 steals per game last season. Both have the same fiery, demonstrative demeanor on defense, minus the trash talk from Paul. On offense, Gary had a higher point per game average at 20.6, but lower assist output 7.1. Comparably speaking, Chris had 16.9 PPG and 9.7 AGP. Each team played at the level of their All Pro point guards. Glove/CP3 dribbles frontcourt, crossover into the lane, throws up an alleyoop to Kemp/Griffin up high for the throw down [in the best Kevin Callabro voice.] Both point guards can throw it anywhere towards the hoop and the big man will go get it.
Shawn Kemp in his prime and Blake Griffin are also similar. We know the ferocity at which they can dunk, posterizing opponents who get in their way. Griffin dunking on cats is the new YouTube sensation. The Reign Man averaged 18.7 points, 10.9 rebounds to Griffin’s 18.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. Local stars Detlef Schrempf (19 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (16.5) round out the top three scorers for their teams.
It is no surprise that the offensive efficiency ratings for both teams ranked in the top five and their records were one game apart (Seattle 57-25 & LAC 56-26). If there are any indications that the Clippers will take a proverbial next step to the NBA Finals this season, let the 1995-96 Sonics recipe for success act as a guide.
Three point shooting ability allows teams to spread the floor and isolate the ball handler or big man. The addition of two +40% career shooters in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick makes Paul, Griffin, and Jordan more valuable. A double team in the middle leaves a shooter open. Paul can pick and choose when he wants to shoot or pass, and if defensive rotations are slow, the shooters will eat.
New coach, revamped bench, but the same core will be exciting to watch from afar. Feelings of negativity toward the league should be eradicated by generating positive momentum citywide for Jamal Crawford and the Clippers.
I challenge you, Sonics fans. You do not have to throw away your green and gold. Just wear your red, white, and blue until our team comes back. Get behind the man and his team that brought part of the NBA action to us. Seattle fans and LAC fans must unite and become one. It is time to witness another one of our own native sons hoist the O’Brien trophy.