Jamal Crawford played nearly two decades in the NBA, his career intersecting with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. And yet, his new gig still gives him the creeps.
Beginning this season, Crawford will be a full-time member of the NBA on TNT’s Tuesday night show — a role she played part-time last season — trading quips and ideas with WNBA legend Candace Parker, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and host Adam Lefkoi. The very thought of it admittedly makes him a little giddy.
“I’m never tired,” Crawford said The Crossover podcast, in his first in-depth interview since joining Turner Sports full-time. The network made the hiring official Thursday. “Like, Tupac wore Shaq’s jersey! Biggy Smalls wore Shaq’s jersey! Michael Jackson, in his apartment in New York, was cut by Shaq in life size! Like Shaq is incredible. And I never, never, never minded that.”
He added: “I’m still sitting there like, ‘Dang, that’s Shaq.’ Or, “Dang, that’s Charles (Barkley).” Or, “Dang, that’s Kenny (Smith).” Or, “That’s Ernie (Johnson) over there.” Like, I’m such a student and a fan of the game. And I just have a certain level of respect, reverence, for those guys that came before me. This will never go away. The child in me will always be there.”
Crawford, one of the most creative scorers of his era and a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, is filling in for Dwyane Wade on Tuesday’s show after Wade left to focus on other interests. As part of his multi-year deal with Turner, Crawford will also appear regularly on NBATV Center Court and NBA GameTime. He will make his debut this season with a live NBA Twitter broadcast on opening night, October 18.
It’s not a career transition the 42-year-old Crawford ever envisioned. Just a year ago, he was still hoping to extend his playing career. As those hopes faded, Crawford began fielding offers from teams looking to add him to their coaching staff or front office. Then he picked up a few fill-in shifts with TNT and NBATV and it stuck — “I got the bug,” he said.
“You get this thing that you fall in love with and you didn’t even know was there,” Crawford said, “and that’s what’s so cool about it.”
The full Crossover episode with Crawford is posted Friday morning. Listen and subscribe here.
Among other topics, Crawford weighs in on the challenges facing the Suns (following the Robert Sarver controversy) and the Celtics (following the firing of coach Ime Udoka) and picks his favorites to advance to the East and West Finals. It also reveals how close the Clippers came to boycotting a playoff game in 2014 after owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks were revealed.
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