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Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson put Sixth Man of the Year beef behind, join forces for playoff run

Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford

Joining the Minnesota Timberwolves during the offseason created a somewhat awkward scene for Taj Gibson, who would now share a locker room and practice floor with Jamal Crawford, the only player to have won three Sixth Man of the Year awards.

Back in 2014, Crawford won his second, in a season full of mesmerizing crossovers, up-and-under finishes, and four-point plays to put him above the rest; even Gibson, who was helping spark the Chicago Bulls to a fourth-seed with an injured Derrick Rose on the shelf.

A healthy average of 13 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks wasn’t enough to deter a gaudy 18.6 points-per-game clip, one that made Crawford a league favorite after winning it previously in 2009-10.

It didn’t take long before Crawford addressed it, though in his usual nonchalant way as means of making conversation.

“I really wanted to win and he won it,” Gibson told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic a wide smile creasing his face. “I tweeted. It stuck with me, and then when me and him got together, I felt bad. I felt like that was the wrong thing to do. He was great. We talked about it. We laughed about it. He’s been a great teammate since.”

“You come off the bench for so many years, it’s one of those awards you want to have because it’s a tough task to do and a tough award to win because so many guys come off the bench that can score.”

Yet Crawford doesn’t have any ill feelings, even saying he would give that one up to the hard-working and now-teammate Gibson.

“I told him he can take it,” Crawford said. “There’s probably one other one I should’ve had. I got beat out a couple times. Maybe I should’ve won. That one belongs to him.”

On Sunday night, both players combined for 24 points — Gibson with nine as a starter and Crawford with 15 vital points off the bench, despite taking a 104-101 loss to the top-seeded Houston Rockets.

Now more than ever, the two former Sixth Man of the Year candidate will have to join forces for an even more heroic act — upsetting the No. 1 seed in the league.

“If you had a certain number of people to be in a foxhole with, in any war you go into, he’d be one of them, for sure,” Crawford said. “He comes from a safe place. There’s no agenda with him. It’s all about wins. You know when he’s out there he’s going to give maximum effort and compete every single second. He’s going to do everything the right way. That’s really, really fun.”