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.
P.J. Carlesimo Will Not Join Philadelphia 76ers - May 30, 2016
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After initial reports that P.J. Carlesimo would replace Mike D'Antoni, he will not join the team as Brett Brown 's top assistant. The Philadelphia 76ers have a lot of changes that could be made regarding assistant coaches in this upcoming season. Head coach Brett Brown is reviewing his current staff and building his team moving forward, and one of the coaches he had interest in is now not joining the team following initial reports that he had completed a deal with the team. P.J. Carlesimo... [read more]
After initial reports that P.J. Carlesimo would replace Mike D'Antoni, he will not join the team as Brett Brown 's top assistant. The Philadelphia 76ers have a lot of changes that could be made regarding assistant coaches in this upcoming season. Head coach Brett Brown is reviewing his current staff and building his team moving forward, and one of the coaches he had interest in is now not joining the team following initial reports that he had completed a deal with the team. P.J. Carlesimo was reportedly going to join the Sixers to replace Mike D'Antoni i, who has accepted an offer to be the head coach of the Houston Rockets. Carlesimo has since changed his mind, despite interest in the job. He will stay with ESPN on television and radio. Reports came out that a deal with Carlesimo was finished, and then later reports came out that a deal had not been completed, but it still looked like Carlesimo would end up with the team. The reason for him not joining the team is 'family reasons' according to Marc Stein, which makes me think that not being able to make his own schedule and adjust when he is and isn't on the road was a huge factor. It makes sense, but it is slightly disappointing that Carlesimo won't join the team, because he seemed to fit with the current coaching staff. Brown doesn't necessarily need to fill the void that's left behind by D'Antoni's departure, as that job didn't even exist until partway through December of 2015. If he is looking for someone to fill the job, though, one option could be Aaron McKie . Mckie is still in the area, as he currently is an assistant coach for the Temple Owls men's basketball team. It could be difficult to pull him away from that job, however. Losing Carlesimo is by no means the end of the world, but it was an odd situation that played out in a strange manner. It just goes to show that reports don't always hold to be completely true. Courtesy of: thesixersense.com
Klay Thompson Takes Control, and Warriors Force Game 7 With Thunder - May 29, 2016
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Amid the steady drumbeat of an arena rooting for him to fail, Klay Thompson (6'7''-G-90, college: Washington St.) refused to let the Golden State Warriors fade away. With his team facing elimination from the N.B.A. playoffs for the second time in three nights, Thompson spotted up from the 3-point line and carried his team. On Saturday night, the Warriors prolonged their season-long quest for a second straight N.B.A. championship by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 108-101, in Game 6 o... [read more]
Amid the steady drumbeat of an arena rooting for him to fail, Klay Thompson (6'7''-G-90, college: Washington St.) refused to let the Golden State Warriors fade away. With his team facing elimination from the N.B.A. playoffs for the second time in three nights, Thompson spotted up from the 3-point line and carried his team. On Saturday night, the Warriors prolonged their season-long quest for a second straight N.B.A. championship by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 108-101, in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. Thompson, so often overshadowed by Stephen Curry (6'3''-PG-88, college: Davidson), scored 41 points as the Warriors tied the series at three games apiece, forcing a Game 7, set for Monday night in Oakland, Calif. Thompson sank 11 of 18 3-point attempts, and Curry added 29 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. 'I don't think there could be any more pressure on us in Game 7 than there was tonight,' Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. The game was an all-consuming nightmare for the Thunder's Kevin Durant (6'9''-SF-88, college: Texas) and Russell Westbrook (6'3''-PG-88, college: UCLA). Durant finished with 29 points but shot 10 of 31 from the field. Westbrook was only marginally more accurate, scoring 28 points while shooting 10 of 27.The Thunder, who were 3 of 23 from 3-point range, will have one more chance to advance to their first N.B.A. finals since 2012. The Thunder took an 8-point lead into the fourth quarter and kept trying to build on it. But Thompson refused to let them pull away. His fourth 3-pointer of the quarter cut Oklahoma City's lead to 4. Curry later drained back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, 99-99. 'We didn't draw a whole lot up that created shots for them,' Kerr said of Thompson and Curry. 'They were mostly just kind of playing the way they play.' With less than two minutes to play, the Warriors' Andre Iguodala (6'6''-SF-84, college: Arizona) stripped Westbrook of the ball and found Thompson in a comfortable spot, behind the 3-point line. It might as well have been a layup. The Warriors were up by 3, and the crowd fell silent. 'It was one of those nights where you make a few easy looks,' Thompson said, 'and then you take those 30-footers with your feet not set and they just happen to keep going in.' Later, after the Thunder had forced a rare miss by Thompson, Westbrook threw the ball away - one of three turnovers he committed in the final 55 seconds. The Warriors' Draymond Green (6'7''-F-90, college: Michigan St.), who collected 14 points and 12 rebounds, scored to seal the victory. 'I thought we got a little stagnant coming down the stretch,' Thunder Coach Billy Donovan said. At the start of the night, the Warriors must have felt as if they were walking into the world's loudest mausoleum. They had lost Games 3 and 4 here by a combined 52 points. It was the first time the Warriors had lost consecutive games this season, and they did not merely lose; they were roasted. 'We knew what we got ourselves into after Game 4,' Green said. Kerr had recognized that the Thunder had too much length and too much size for him to employ his favored small lineup, in which Green slides from forward to center. So when the Warriors returned home for Game 5, Kerr went big and planted Andrew Bogut (7'0''-C-84, college: Utah) in the post. It helped that Bogut avoided foul trouble, and the Warriors won to ensure a trip back to Oklahoma City. Before Game 6, Kerr acknowledged that more pressure might be on the Thunder. They had a chance to close out the series at home, and while Durant and Westbrook had endured their share of pressure cookers, this opportunity - 48 minutes from the finals - was still slightly foreign. The Warriors had been tested - tested last season, when they won their first title in 40 years; tested without Curry, whose injuries in the first round scrambled their rhythm; and tested just days ago, when they avoided elimination for the first time. On Saturday, the Warriors were hoping for more of the same. The Thunder fans, bedecked in matching blue T-shirts, roared when Durant scored the game's first points. The arena practically shook when he soared for a dunk soon afterward. Meanwhile, Green, who had entrenched himself as one of the city's most loathsome visitors when he kicked Steven Adams (7'0''-C/F-93, college: Pittsburgh) in the groin in Game 3, was booed every time he touched the ball. Despite missing 13 of their first 18 shots, the Warriors survived the first few earsplitting possessions and trailed by 23-20 at the end of the first quarter. The Thunder soon found some separation. With Curry waiting to check back into the game, Westbrook lobbed a pass to Andre Roberson (6'7''-F-91, college: Colorado) for a dunk that pushed the lead to 12. Curry did not score his first points until nearly five minutes had elapsed in the second quarter. But the Thunder had their own problems. Durant, hounded by the Warriors' Iguodala, shot 6 of 19 from the field in the first half, and Oklahoma City was 2 of 14 from 3-point range. 'There's a reason he's been one of the best defenders in the league for a long time,' Kerr said of Iguodala. The Thunder led by 53-48 at the break, but Thompson opened the second half with two 3-pointers. The pace for both teams was frenetic, treading that fine line between aggressive and reckless. When the Warriors' Festus Ezeli committed an offensive foul that wiped away a layup by Thompson, an exasperated Curry pointed at his temple: Think! It was not the most conducive environment for cerebral basketball, not with the circus tempo and not with the noise. Curry had the added annoyance of being defended by Westbrook, who draped himself all over Curry. There was some ill will between them, too. After Game 5, Westbrook laughed when Durant was asked whether Curry was an underrated defender. 'I could care less about other people's opinions about me,' Curry said before Game 6. 'I know what I do for my team, and I know what my teammates expect of me.' The Warriors also knew what they expected from Thompson, and he delivered when they needed it most. Courtesy of: nytimes.com
J.B. Bickerstaff in talks to join David Fizdale's staff in Memphis - May 29, 2016
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Now that former Heat assistant David Fizdale has accepted the Grizzlies' head coaching job, he's starting to put together his staff. One name to keep an eye on, according to John Martin of ESPN 92.9 in Memphis: John-Blair Bickerstaff , who served as the Rockets' interim coach this season after the team fired Kevin McHale in November. The Rockets were a chemistry disaster this season, but John-Blair Bickerstaff is highly regarded around the NBA in coaching circles. He was a candidate to ke... [read more]
Now that former Heat assistant David Fizdale has accepted the Grizzlies' head coaching job, he's starting to put together his staff. One name to keep an eye on, according to John Martin of ESPN 92.9 in Memphis: John-Blair Bickerstaff , who served as the Rockets' interim coach this season after the team fired Kevin McHale in November. The Rockets were a chemistry disaster this season, but John-Blair Bickerstaff is highly regarded around the NBA in coaching circles. He was a candidate to keep the coaching job in Houston when the Rockets' front office began their search, but he withdrew his name from consideration when he started receiving interest around the league as a lead assistant. It sounds like Memphis is one of the teams going after him, and he'd be a good hire for Fizdale's staff. Courtesy of: nbcsports.com
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