Michael Jordan helped propel Jamal Crawford‘s NBA career – one that has already lasted 16 seasons and resulted in more than $120 million in earnings and three Sixth Man of the Year awards.
Jordan also fostered an environment where Crawford could’ve derailed it.
Crawford was drafted for the Bulls in 2000, when Jordan was contemplating a comeback he’d eventually make with the Wizards. In preparation, Jordan frequently invited Crawford to play pickup basketball with him.
In between Crawford’s first and second year in the league, after the pickup games at Hoops the Gym, many of Jordan’s friends and associates would go next door to his contemporary American restaurant, One Sixtyblue. After hours, games of chance were set up – Vegas-style card tables, a separate corner for shooting dice.
Two participants, on condition of anonymity, recounted one particular night when Jordan and Antoine Walker were among the card players and Crawford and Ray Allen were among the players shooting dice.
Over what is believed to be a two-day span, he said, he lost in the neighborhood of $100,000. A person with intimate knowledge of the game claims Crawford lost several hundred thousand and Allen lost even more. And that, days after the dice game, a call was placed to Goodwin, Crawford’s agent, to inform him that Crawford had not yet squared his debt with one professional gambler.
“OK,” Goodwin said, according to the person with intimate knowledge of the game. “What does he owe? Jamal is good for it.”
“No, you don’t understand,” the go-between said. “If he doesn’t pay now, these guys will kill Jamal.”
“Kill Jamal?!! He’s an NBA player. He gets paid as soon as the season starts. Give me the dude’s number.”
The person with knowledge of the game said Goodwin called the man Crawford owed money, set up a payment plan and resolved the issue without incident.
Crawford swore he didn’t lose that kind of money, and said he never heard the story about his life being threatened. But he doesn’t deny he got in way over his head, which led to a particularly humiliating moment.
The life of an NBA player remains more wild than we’ll ever know.
Will the Cavaliers trade Kevin Love?
Cleveland’s championship quieted, but didn’t stop, the speculation.
The Cavs’ stance might.
While there are no shortage of suitors who would take on Love’s contract, sources close to the Cavs say moving him is not even remotely a consideration.
Some parts of the equation haven’t changed since the last trade deadline:
- Love is a good, and probably now underrated, player who can’t reach his full potential while playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That’s OK. Most players must sacrifice to fit their team’s needs.
- Love helps the Cavaliers against most teams. As I said above, he’s really good.
- The Warriors – the overwhelming championship favorites – present a particularly difficult matchup for Love. The Cavs didn’t quite win the Finals in spite of Love, but his contributions were limited.
But a few things have changed:
- Cleveland proved it could win a title with Love. There is no longer any doubt.
- The championship also affects perception. Teams are reluctant to break up their cores coming off a title. It’d be surprising to see Cleveland make a major move until after the 2017 postseason.
- Specifically, LeBron’s relationship with Love might have improved. Winning cures all ills. After previous reservations, LeBron might feel a stronger connection with Love due to their experiencing a title run together.
So, I buy that the Cavs are firmly against trading Love. The question: Will that stance change once they lose in the playoffs, whether that’s in 2017 or beyond?
Doc Rivers said he doesn’t plan to break up the Clippers’ core, and that’s up to him.
For one more season.
Sources close to Griffin have been adamant that he is planning to re-sign in L.A. and that he’s not open to going anywhere.
Sources close to the situation say win or lose, Rivers is not open to trade talks on Griffin or Paul and that he’s not worried about either walking away in July.
There are two possibilities:
1. Griffin is truly intent on re-signing with the Clippers.
2. Griffin is not truly intent on re-signing with the Clippers.
The second could be true if Griffin wants to spend the upcoming season in Los Angeles before evaluating his options. If Griffin states anything less than a firm commitment to stay, Rivers might trade him.
But let’s take Griffin at his reported word. Even if he honestly plans right now to re-sign, a lot can change in a year. The pressure for the Clippers to advance at least to the conference finals is only mounting. If the Clippers fall short, the resulting fallout could affect Griffin’s thinking.
At minimum, this is bad news for the Thunder – who hoped to pair Griffin with Russell Westbrook – and good news for the Clippers. Griffin leaning one direction now means something, even if it’s not definitive.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it prohibitive for Griffin to sign an extension with the Clippers. So, whatever he thinks today about re-signing, he’ll have to play out the season and evaluate July 1.