Last summer, NBA veteran sharp shooter and Seattle native Jamal Crawford had his fair share of suitors in free agency. While he ultimately signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, championship contenders like the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were ringing his phone as well. In fact, Crawford told the Akron Beacon Journal, he was close to signing with the Cavs.
“It was one of the few teams, but the only thing was they were so already put together. Same thing with Golden State,” Crawford said. “If I would go there and we would win a championship, I’d be like ‘OK, what’s next Jamal?’ You want to embrace that journey and I wanted to go through it with these guys. I have the ultimate respect for the Cavs and the Warriors and all those teams, but they’re already there. I wanted to go somewhere where they can kind of build up.”
Crawford signed with the Wolves on July 19, 2017. Just over a month later, on August 22, the Cavs acquired another Puget Sound native, Tacoma's Isaiah Thomas.
“I was in the gym and he had just came back from his honeymoon, and he’s like, ‘Call me ASAP.’ He keeps calling me and I missed his calls,” Crawford said. “He’s like, ‘I got traded.’ I’m like, ‘No way, you’re joking, right?’ The year he just had, there’s no way. And then he told me the whole thing. His wife, his parents, they called me next. It was crazy.”
Had that trade happened earlier, Crawford may be in wine and gold this season along with Thomas. Crawford says it would have made a big difference in his decision making.
“Yeah, it would’ve had to,” Crawford said. “That’s my brother. We go on vacation, his family and my family. I was a groomsman in [his wedding], he was a groomsman in mine. We’re past the basketball thing, so that would’ve had to change things.”
Despite being nine years apart in age, Crawford and Thomas have a long standing history together. Having both grown up in the Seattle area, the two met at an open gym at the University of Washington thirteen years ago. Crawford became Thomas’s mentor, much like Gary Payton and Doug Christie had done for him. Thomas transferred to South Kent High School in Connecticut while Crawford was playing for the Knicks in New York. The two would often travel to each other’s games.
“On the weekends I would take the train and stay the weekends in New York,” Thomas said to Ohio.com. “He came to my games as well. It’s been a helluva relationship, friendship and something that’s crazy because I used to watch him in the NBA and now being able to compete, it’s a blessing.”
“At the core of who he is, you see everything, he’s just a basketball player,” Crawford said of Thomas. “And from there, how genuine he is. How much knowledge he wanted to absorb and how he applied that knowledge, which was very sincere, throughout his journey.”
While the two won’t be joining forces on the Cavs, they do get a chance to play together often.
“We play at his high school all the time,” Thomas said. “We’re always scrimmaging at high schools. We’re always just trying to find a good run, so wherever it may be, if somebody hits us up we’ll be there.”
That would include, of course, at Jamal Crawford’s annual Seattle pro-am, The Crawsover.