BTS: CRAWFORD VISITS NBA TV

Jamal Crawford was likely in basketball heaven.

The self-proclaimed “hoops head” visited NBA TV’s headquarters during the Clippers’ three-day stay in Atlanta. He was virtually surrounded by the game he loves.

There was a wide control room with HD screens displaying every game from Tuesday night’s schedule, a lounge with the Fan Night game between the Pistons and Heat, and offices and hallways filled with NBA memorabilia and photographs.

Crawford visited with longtime veteran and former All-Star Steve Smith for a spot on “Smitty’s Top 5 Plays Under the Rim,” a segment on NBA TV that shows the best plays reserved for the guys who are not necessarily high flyers. Crawford is featured so regularly on Smith’s top five that he earned the nickname “L.A.’s Dance Instructor.”

Smith and Crawford talked about everything from Doc Rivers to Seattle-area basketball, but the interview got most interesting when Crawford broke down a few of his moves. There was the Metta World Peace tilt-a-whirl from last year, the double around the back on Deron Williams from his New York days, and his most recent move where he left Lance Stephenson on the seat of his pants. 

At the end of the interview, Smith showed Crawford a new move off camera, one that Crawford, who earlier told Smith he was having trouble mastering, promises will be unleashed soon.

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Crawford is a natural for television. He is personable, knows the game and offers a unique perspective. He’s done it before, serving as a guest analyst in past seasons for the all-basketball network, including during the first round of the 2012 Playoffs. Before going into the interview he went into “hair and makeup” and even had a resident barber tighten his hair.

When he was done talking to Smith, he read a couple of promotional spots and then made surprise visit to the on-air NBA TV studio with Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber and Greg Anthony. When he walked in, they challenged Crawford, wearing a black sweater, denim and boots, to take a once-and-for-all shot on the NBA TV court. He missed the first, but immediately took and made a second one.

He was mic’d up after that and sat with the team for the final few minutes of the Pistons-Heat third quarter, talking about both teams and as well as the Clippers’ prospects on their seven-game road trip.

The night ended with Crawford saying his goodbyes and heading into the rainy night. Georgia Tech and Illinois were wrapping up the second half of their early-season matchup at McCamsih Pavilion across the street as he drove beyond the security gate back to the Clippers’ hotel nearby.

Note: Crawford’s segment with Steve Smith is scheduled to air Friday, Dec. 6. Look for a link to the feature on Clippers.com or watch on NBA TV. Portions of the interview will also re-air when the Clippers play the Brooklyn Nets on TNT next Thursday.