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A Work of Art
How Jamal Crawford became
"The Difference."

By Jon Cooper

At times, the work of Jamal Crawford on the court has been absolutely breathtaking, leaving fans, members of the media and even opponents at a loss for words.

Look at his body of work. He leads the team in three-point field goals made (139, 28 more than Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby), is second on the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game and three-point field goal percentage (.381). He's led the team in scoring 23 times, and is doing it all coming off the bench. This is from someone adjusting to not starting after having started 66 percent of the time in his nine seasons prior to the 2009-10 season, and who hadn't come off the bench since the 2006-07 season.

"He's huge," said forward Marvin Williams, who's been a fan of Crawford since being in seventh grade and watching Jamal light it up in Washington State High School championships. "Some nights, in the past few years, when Joe has struggled scoring the ball our team has struggled. But to see Jamal come in and take the pressure off him and off of other guys of scoring the ball, it's definitely good for our team."

"Huge" is a good word to describe his impact, and "good for the team" is flattering.

But how do you stress that impact and all that Crawford has brought to the Hawks as a first-class shot on the court and first-class person off it in the NBA world where players are commonly known by the likes of "The Answer," "The Big Fundamental," "The Big Ticket," "The Diesel" and so many others?

Ask a professional. One such professional was Hawks Vice President of Public Relations Arthur Triche, who came up with the magic words: "The Difference."

It happened innocently enough back in December, as he was trying to come up with a campaign to market Crawford for Sixth Man of the Year.

"He is certainly a different type of player than we've had coming off the bench in my 20 years being here," said Triche. "'The Difference' kept sticking with me in some of the names I was trying to think of or tags to associate with him. One day, I ran it by him and asked him to think about it before we took off from Atlanta to go to Boston. He was like, 'Me and some of my reps were talking about that and we thought about 'Difference Maker.'

"I said, 'That's a little too long and I don't know if it actually resonates with people as much as 'The Difference,' which is right, direct and to the point," he continued. "He came back and said he liked it and it's stuck ever since."

"Difference" had been a word used by Crawford in his introductory press conference (check out the clip above and at Jamal's Sixth Man of the Year website), but was something that Triche (like many) had forgotten.

Whether the words had been subliminally implanted into his subconscious or simply fit Crawford's performance, a nickname was born. It's a nickname that Triche said has received overwhelmingly positive support on his Twitter account and is being attached to Crawford by the Hawks in every way, shape and form.

Triche said that while Crawford was on the right track with his nickname, it's probably best that Crawford, himself, hardly the showy, self-promoter, didn't come up with his own nickname. That's usually the kind of territory reserved for an expert in the promotion game like Shaq — whose monikers include The Big Aristotle, The Big Baryshnikov, The Big Cactus, The Big Dummy (after a playoff loss), Wilt Chamberneezy, etc.).

"It's never good for a player to give himself a nickname, let's put it that way," said Triche, with a laugh. "Because sometimes it just doesn't work or it doesn't make sense or it speaks too much of their own individualism. Thankfully we came up with one that he likes and it does fit.”

Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.