Austin Rivers, DeAndre Jordan on what former Clippers’ teammate Jamal Crawford means to them
LOS ANGELES – Jamal Crawford played five strong seasons with the LA Clippers from 2012-2017, bringing fans to their feet with his number of clutch shots and making them ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ with his filthy crossovers. What people on the outside may not know, however, is the serious impact he had on his former teammates.
When Austin Rivers was traded away from the New Orleans Pelicans and to the LA Clippers in January of 2015, many questioned the move to bring a 22-year old who had yet to find his role in the league and wasn’t that good at any one area. After countless battles alongside Crawford on the court, Rivers has become a legitimate player in the league that teams have to gameplay for. Sure, Rivers put in a lot of hard work to get where he is, but the third year guard also had he mentorship of one 15-year veteran in Jamal Crawford upon his arrival to Los Angeles. With their lockers next to one another for the following two-and-a-half years, Rivers got to soak up the basketball and life knowledge Crawford provided.
That’s why Rivers now calls Crawford the best teammate he’s ever had.
“He’s the best teammate I’ve ever had,” said Austin Rivers. “I tell everybody that he’s the best teammate I’ve ever had. He always will be the best teammate I’ve ever had. He was huge for my development into a young man and as a player.”
When asked about his impact on Rivers, Crawford reminisced on watching Rivers grow up before his eyes and become the player he is today.
“I hope [I had an impact],” said Crawford. “On any young player, but especially him. Our lockers were by each other. Just watching him and where he went from the situation in New Orleans and then coming here and seeing him really blossom and develop and the work he put in. Just seeing him grow off the court [as well]. Those things are always fun, and that’s rewarding.
“To know you played a small part in a piece of that is really fun.”
During Crawford’s return to Staples Center on Wednesday night with his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers made a very fitting tribute video to honor and thank him for the five years of basketball greatness to a franchise that hadn’t seen too much in it’s 48-year history. At the end of the video, the cameras panned over to Crawford, and Austin Rivers was seen raising his arms as if to tell the crowd, ‘let him hear it.’
Rivers says that moment was to cheer not only for what Crawford has done for him, but for the league.
“When they did that montage, I made sure the crowd was cheering just because he deserves that respect as a player,” added Rivers. “Not just here with the Clippers, but for what he’s done for the game of basketball and the NBA man. He’s been an elite scorer and a fun player to watch for 18 years. 18 years! That’s incredible bro! And he’s still playing at an elite level. People don’t understand how special that dude is. I’m very fortunate I got to play with him.”
Rivers told ClutchPoints that the two have kept in touch a little bit this season, but the grind of the NBA has made it difficult. He does, however, plan to attend the Seattle Pro-Am Crawford holds in Washington every summer.
“I’ve been telling him for years I’m going to go up to Seattle, Washington to hoop for the Pro-Am and to hoop with him so I’ll probably do that this summer,” said Rivers.
Another former Clippers’ teammate of Crawford’s is one Ralph Lawler, who has surely said, “the lob, the jam!” to countless times during their five years playing together. DeAndre Jordan, who was often one of the healthiest Clippers players on the roster, had a lot of opportunities to play alongside Crawford in both the regular and postseason.
“He was great, I miss him a lot,” said Jordan. “He’s like a brother to me. We were together 5 years. I talk to Jamal still every day. I miss him a lot, we miss him a lot here and I wish him nothing but the best.”
When asked about what he learned from Crawford, here was Jordan’s response.
“Don’t have your hands down when you’re guarding him for sure,” Jordan joked before adding, “He was great. A veteran like that who’s able to score the basketball and be a true professional man. I was lucky to play with him.”