Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford tells Eurobasket he wasn't surprised Flip Saunders was fired, expects his team to make the playoffs, is certain Kobe Bryant's the best player in the world, and talks about his older brother Joe's, career in Israel.
After a strong finish last year, the Washington Wizards sophomore guard Jordan Crawford, wasn't aware that playing in the NBA from the get-go, gets somewhat tiring. 'In terms of playing, this season has been a lot different,' Crawford exclusively told Eurobasket, enjoying his day off from the office.
'Around this time last year I wasn't playing at all. I only played 26 games when I really was a factor, so this season feels like it's been going on for a long time and we've only played less than a third of the games.' Crawford said.
Crawford also revealed he wasn't completely surprised when General Manager Ernie Grunfeld relieved Flip Saunders from his coaching position, 'It was kind of expected with the way things were going. You just got to deal with the situation and that's what we're doing right now.' When referring to the Wizards' future, Crawford didn't hesitate, setting high standers for him and his teammates. 'If everyone believes it's possible, we definitely have a chance to make the playoffs. The East isn't that strong, and as a team we're getting much closer and playing better.'
Surprisingly, while most basketball players look to mimic Michael Jordan, Crawford's older brother and childhood idol Joe, is undergoing his own hardwood battles in the Israeli league, 6,000 miles away.
After playing college hoops alongside Rajon Rondo, then excelling in the D-League, Joe was tabbed by the New York Knicks; however, with Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson and young draftee Toney Douglas on the roster, Crawford's aim was simply to prove he belonged. 'It's hard getting a real playing opportunity in the NBA,' said Washington's Crawford, explaining why his brother didn't get a fair chance in the league. 'Sometimes, like in Joe's situation, you're in a tough position and you just never get your chance.' Crawford continued, 'The NBA isn't really about how good you are. It's about opportunities, luck and basically if someone gives you a chance to play. There's some politics to it, but it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time.'
Meanwhile, in Israel, after losing Dwayne Mitchell (last season's MVP) to Ashkelon, Maccabi Rishon explored the free agent market earlier this summer inquest of a talent that will lead the organization to back-to-back domestic league final four appearances, and become the face of its new era.
Jordan's older brother Joe, a 25-year-old Wildcat alumnus appears to have developed into that person.
Nearly 5-monts after landing in Israel, Crawford's ranked fourth in league in scoring, averaging just below 20 points per game, earning this week's Israeli League Player of the Week honors after dropping 29 points on 3-6 shooting from deep, in addition to drawing 8 fouls from the league's second best defensive team, BC Habikaa. Rishon, currently standing fourth in the Israeli association, has already qualified for the State-Cup Final Four in February.
During the recent NBA lockout, Crawford (Jordan) was intrigued by the possibility of joining his older brother in Israel, 'I already began receiving offers to go abroad but I wanted to go to Israel to be with Joe, see the sites and experience the culture.' Yet, it was Joe who told his brother to stay home, develop his game and keep the no-days-off mindset that led him to last season's success. Behind closed doors, Crawford still 'plans to make a trip out there around May with my parents.'
Regarding the differences and similarities in each others' games the NBAer said, 'We kind of play a similar game but then again we do things differently. We're comparable in the way we get to the hole but Joe's stronger then I am. He also shoots better than I do now. I'm more of a crafty player and try to wiggle my way through people.'
Back to the U.S. - Crawford shed some light on his 'better then Michael Jordan' comment, 'What's the point of playing basketball for your career if you dont want to be better then who they call the greatest. Every time you're in a barber shop or anywhere people talk basketball, their talking about the greatest players. If you don't want to be mentioned in that conversation then you're doing it for nothing.'
When asked about the ongoing 'who's a better player, Kobe Bryant or Lebron James' debate, Crawford said, 'Kobe of course. From the players that don't play at all to the stars, everybody in the NBA is good. Everyone can compete with one another having a better night any time out, it just come downs to if you can do it every single night, and that's the difference between them.
James Has Triple-Double as Cavs Rout Knicks 117-88 in Opener - 4 hours ago
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LeBron James (6'8''-SF-84) took time to reflect as the Cleveland Cavaliers raised their championship banner. Then it was business as usual. James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving (6'3''-G-92, college: Duke) scored 29 points and the Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener. James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the gam... [read more]
LeBron James (6'8''-SF-84) took time to reflect as the Cleveland Cavaliers raised their championship banner. Then it was business as usual. James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving (6'3''-G-92, college: Duke) scored 29 points and the Cavaliers beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener. James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years. "It was great to have a moment like that," he said. "It was difficult to focus on the game but we did a great job, especially in the second half." James, who got choked up while speaking to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings. "There were so many emotions," he said. "To see us win the finals and tonight being that last exclamation point to receive your ring in front of your fans was a great moment." Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love (6'10''-PF-88, college: UCLA) scored 23 for the Cavaliers. Carmelo Anthony (6'8''-SF-84, college: Syracuse) led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose (6'3''-G-88, college: Memphis) had 17. Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert was taken to the locker room late in the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms after colliding with Kristaps Porzingis (7'3''-C/F-95). Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue (6'0''-G-77, college: Nebraska) said Shumpert was undergoing tests to determine the extent of the injury. Cleveland's players, coaching staff and front office personnel also received their championship rings in the pregame ceremony, and the sellout crowd chanted Lue's last name. "That was a really good feeling," he said. "It was great to be a part of it." The basketball game was only part of a big night in town. The Cleveland Indians played Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs across the street at Progressive Field. The Knicks, who missed the playoffs the last three seasons, are expecting major improvement after acquiring Rose from Chicago to run the offense and signing center Joakim Noah, who was scoreless in 21 minutes. "We will improve, I guarantee it," Anthony said. "There are just so many moving parts right now. We need to get better, but we're not running from that fact." New York, playing its first game under new coach Jeff Hornacek , trailed by 13 in the second quarter but rallied to cut the lead to 45-43 at halftime. A pair of dunks by James and 3-pointers from Irving and Love pushed the lead to 61-49. Cleveland's spurt continued as Irving hit three 3-pointers for a 74-53 lead. Porzingis scored 16 points for New York. Courtesy of: abcnews.com
Much-hyped Warriors season opens with 129-100 loss to Spurs - 4 hours ago
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The debut of one of the most prized offseason additions in NBA history ended inconspicuously with 3:41 left on the game clock Tuesday night. With his Warriors team down 23 points to the Spurs, head coach Steve Kerr subbed in Javale McGee(7'0''-C-88, college: Nevada) for seven-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) during a timeout. Golden State's reserves completed the season-opening 129-100 loss in front of mostly vacant seats at Oracle Arena. A year after a league-... [read more]
The debut of one of the most prized offseason additions in NBA history ended inconspicuously with 3:41 left on the game clock Tuesday night. With his Warriors team down 23 points to the Spurs, head coach Steve Kerr subbed in Javale McGee (7'0''-C-88, college: Nevada) for seven-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) during a timeout. Golden State's reserves completed the season-opening 129-100 loss in front of mostly vacant seats at Oracle Arena. A year after a league-record 24-0 start, the Warriors took the pressure off early with a dud of a performance. They lost the offensive-rebounding numbers, 21-8, and attempted 13 fewer shots than San Antonio. A team that relies on ball movement and made jumpers, Golden State piled up 16 giveaways and missed 26 of its 33 three-point attempts. It allowed the Spurs to shoot 48 percent from the field (50 percent from beyond the arc). 'I thought our guys were embarrassed,' Kerr said. 'I know I was.' The Warriors' two most glaring weaknesses, interior defense and sloppy passing, were exposed by a San Antonio team eager to prove that there will be suspense in the race for the Western Conference's top playoff position. Kawhi Leonard (6'7''-F-91, college: San Diego St.) didn't need to make a three-pointer to pour in a game-high 35 points. The frontcourt's unquestioned leader with Tim Duncan gone, LaMarcus Aldridge (6'11''-F/C-85, college: Texas) chipped in 26 points and 14 rebounds. Outside of Durant (27 points), Stephen Curry (6'3''-PG-88, college: Davidson) (26 points) and Draymond Green (6'7''-F-90, college: Michigan St.) (18 points), Golden State totaled 29 points on 13-for-35 shooting. It didn't seriously challenge after giving up a big run to close the first half, and most of Oracle Arena had emptied by midway through the fourth quarter. 'It's a slap in the face,' Durant said. 'It woke us up a bit, and we look forward to getting better.' It had started as an environment befitting opening night of perhaps the most anticipated season in franchise history. When Durant was introduced with the starters, a capacity crowd of 19,596 roared. Jay-Z and Beyonce sat courtside. The catering staff, trying to accommodate an overflow of media, ran out of food before tip-off. But the dominant Warriors team many had expected didn't materialize. Golden State players missed two early layups, passed into traffic, and nobody outside of Durant and Curry could find an offensive rhythm in the first half. After falling behind by 17 points midway through the second quarter, the Warriors used a 17-8 run to trim their deficit to single digits. The exclamation point came when Durant sliced through the key for a tomahawk dunk that sent fans to their feet. Many teams might have folded under the collective pressure of a national TV audience and a raucous road arena. In their first regular-season game in 20 years without Duncan on the roster, the Spurs underscored why they're Golden State's biggest Western-Conference threat. A 14-4 spurt gave them a 64-46 lead entering halftime. Seconds into the break, a fan tweeted a photoshopped picture of Durant wearing a No. 35 San Antonio jersey with the caption, 'KD coming out of the locker room at halftime like.' 'We'll show the video tomorrow,' Kerr said. 'There's lots to show.' In a season with such hype, each Warriors loss will be nitpicked and analyzed on sports talk radio shows throughout the country. It will be easy for pundits to apply doomsday scenarios to one setback. After an exhibition slate marked by so much promise gave way to a clunker of a regular-season debut, Golden State is glad it has at least 81 more opportunities to exorcise the memory. 'We can't panic, but we can't let this turn into two or three more games,' Durant said. 'We have to correct it.' Courtesy of: sfgate.com
Magic Exercise 2017/18 Options On Gordon, Hezonja, Payton - 20 hours ago
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The Magic have exercised three of their four available team options for 2017/18, announcing today that Aaron Gordon (6'9''-PF-95, college: Arizona), Mario Hezonja (6'8''-G/F-95), and Elfrid Payton (6'3''-G-94, college: La-Lafayette) are now locked in for that season. Gordon's fourth-year option is worth $5.504MM, Hezonja's third-year option is worth $4.078MM, and Payton's fourth-year option is worth $3.332MM. C.J. Wilcox(6'5''-G-90, college: Washington) also has a team option for 2017/18... [read more]
The Magic have exercised three of their four available team options for 2017/18, announcing today that Aaron Gordon (6'9''-PF-95, college: Arizona), Mario Hezonja (6'8''-G/F-95), and Elfrid Payton (6'3''-G-94, college: La-Lafayette) are now locked in for that season. Gordon's fourth-year option is worth $5.504MM, Hezonja's third-year option is worth $4.078MM, and Payton's fourth-year option is worth $3.332MM. C.J. Wilcox (6'5''-G-90, college: Washington) also has a team option for 2017/18 available on his rookie contract, but he wasn't mentioned in the press release issued today by Orlando. That likely means that Wilcox's option will be declined, but the club has a few more days to officially make that call. October 31 is the deadline for teams to exercise '17/18 options on rookie contracts. Gordon and Payton are expected to have significant roles in the Magic's rotation this year after each player took a step forward in 2015/16. Gordon, averaging 23.9 minutes per contest, posted 9.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG, while Payton put up 10.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 29.4 minutes per contest. As for Hezonja, he should have the opportunity to increase his role as well, since Orlando isn't exactly loaded with shooters. In his rookie season, he shot 34.9% from three-point range in 79 games. With their fourth-year options now exercised, Gordon and Payton will be eligible for extensions in 2017 and restricted free agency in 2018. Hezonja, one year behind them, has one more team option for 2018/19, which the Magic will have to make a decision on next fall. Courtesy of: hoopsrumors.com
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