CRAWFORD, REDICK FRIENDSHIP BLOSSOMED FROM ‘DAY 1’
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
After a year of sharing the two-guard position for the Clippers, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford have reached a point where they also sharing each other’s words.
During their final meeting with the media for the 2013-14 season, Crawford and Redick, flanking one another at a makeshift stage at the Clippers’ training center, appeared downtrodden and upset, their season abruptly over just hours earlier.
They perked up, noticeably, though, when asked about their relationship,
“He’s the starting two-guard,” Crawford said, flicking a glance at Redick as he spoke. “I pull for him so much. Honestly, he pulls for me the same way.”
When did that start?
“Day 1,” Redick said.
“Yeah,” Crawford added.
Prior to Oct. 1 in San Diego, which served as Day 1 for Crawford and Redick as on-court teammates, there was some uncertainty about how things would work out. Sure, they had played against each other before, including twice in the postseason when Crawford was in Atlanta and Redick was in Orlando.
In 2012-13, they both scored 15-plus points per game and for the most part they were both reserves. Last summer, when the Clippers added Redick, Doc Rivers said it was because they could never have enough shooting. Where he would fit with Crawford, the eventual Sixth Man of the Year, on the roster, remained to be seen.
“Jamal and I have always had mutual respect for each other,” Redick said. “I think there was for both us this summer there was this kind of ‘What’s the role going to be?’ I didn’t even know going into training camp who was going to start. From day one of training camp, Doc just talked about there was going to be people who would try to tear Jamal and I apart because we’re competing or whatever.”
Instead of competing, they played off of one another. Redick averaged 15.2 points, a career high, as the starter, shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range, and Crawford won the Sixth Man, scoring 18.6 points off the bench and breaking the team record in 3-pointers made for the second straight season. When Chris Paul went out with a separated shoulder, it was as much Crawford and Redick’s ability to share the court as it was Blake Griffin and Darren Collison that kept the Clippers bunched at the top of the Western Conference standings.
“We clicked right away,” Redick said. “We bonded right away. It’s funny, too, because when Chris got hurt we got a chance to play together.”
How in tune has their relationship become? Good enough to finish each other’s sentences.
“And that was fun” the two said simultaneously.
“That was great,” he continued. “We played well together.”
In 32 games, Crawford and Redick played 275 minutes on the floor at the same time. The Clippers were a plus-14.8 per 48 minutes and averaged 117.9 points. The team’s assists went up, its turnovers went down. They effectively melded the raw play-making ability of Crawford and the off-the-ball movement of Redick into an offense in itself.
Their on-court chemistry likely was a carry over to how quickly Crawford and Redick became fast friends off it. Their lockers were next to each other at Staples Center, and often on the road as well. And after games they often talked about everything from basketball to family.
“Our relationship has turned out to be one of the best because I didn’t see it coming, competing against him for years,” Crawford said. “To see where our relationship has gone, has been a wonderful thing. It’s good to know that you have a friend besides basketball and you can talk about things basketball-related, too. I’m happy. We are in a great place with that.”
Heading into the 2014 offseason, the Clippers shooting guard spot, without any of the uncertainty from a year ago, is likely in a great place as well.