Here’s something you didn’t know about Jamal Crawford. He grew up a Sonics fan; I mean a die-hard Sonics fan. So much that, by the time he became a well-known high school player, in order to spend time around the players he looked up to, Crawford got a job at Key Arena.
I would take concessions up from the basement. It was usually a 10 min trip but I would make it a 30 min trip cause I would stop in the hallways and watch the game.Jamal Crawford, Sonics Forever
Jamal worked there for a few months, soaking in and learning from every single moment of standing in the hallway and watching his favorite NBA team go to work. And when he looks back on his NBA career, Crawford looks at those experiences as the biggest influence on his basketball trajectory. Especially the way Sonics players were involved with the community.
You don’t get overwhelmed seeing NBA superstars in the stands of a high school game anymore. But back then, it wasn’t as common of sight as it is today. However, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp made it common for Crawford. They would come and watch him play on multiple occasions, becoming Jamal’s mentors before he even got into the NBA.
I was able to pick their brain about what it would take to be a pro, how to work, what to look out for. They laid the blueprint for me, and it was pretty easy to follow.Jamal Crawford, Sonics Forever
Another local legend who made a big impact on Jamal was Doug Christie. He and the Sonics paved the way for Crawford to follow, being the voice of encouragement for a young high school kid. And that’s all JC needed. It resulted in a 20-year-long NBA career, during which Crawford became one of the best off-the-bench guys ever and one of the best ball handlers in the history of the league. And 40-year- old veteran still isn’t done. He’s waiting for the phone to ring, for one last run in the association.
In the meantime, Crawford is doing the same thing Cristie and the Sonics did for him. He’s mentoring the next generation of NBA players, knowing the impact being around pro players at a young age had on him. When you’re a part of NBA brotherhood, that’s what it’s all about.