It seemed appropriate that Jamal Crawford was the first athlete to represent upstart sports apparel company, BrandBlack.

Crawford, who recently agreed to a multiyear deal to wear a signature shoe with the El Segundo-based company and serve as the brand’s global ambassador, has long gone against convention.

He dribbles with a natural fluidity that longtime Clippers broadcaster and former NBA player Michael Smith said he’s never seen. He answers fan’s questions on Twitter during flights after road games. He is the king of the crossover and the four-point play and it seems he was born a scorer. When Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was asked about Crawford’s on-court ability, he responded by saying, “He’s just different.”

And it seems perfectly different that Crawford would wear a shoe that is designed with aerospace in mind. Company founder and creative director David Raysse talked about why Crawford and BrandBlack matched up.

“I really love his game,” Raysse said. “I love his aesthetic and I love the aesthetic of his game. And then we met with him, we talked about sort of similar interests and things like that and I just felt like he was a perfect fit.”

Crawford and several of teammates were on-hand Tuesday night at Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles to celebrate the debut of BrandBlack’s 2014 collection, which includes a shoe called the Raptor, which comes in black, white, bronze, gun metal and gold. Crawford began wearing the shoe in the preseason, but did not release any official details until now.

Jamal Crawford and crew


“Being BrandBlack’s first global ambassador affords me an opportunity to impact the style of the game that I love and to start my own legacy in sports apparel,” Crawford said.

Crawford, whose NBA legacy includes nearing the 14,000-point plateau and a Sixth Man of the Year award, said choosing BrandBlack came easy. It sounds like Raysse shares that belief.

“I think it all started with looking at the modern athlete,” said Raysse, who began his career with Fila in 1993 and designed the Grant Hill II. “You’re an entrepreneur. You’re a fashion plate.

“When we were looking for guys, it was really important that they seemed like an organic fit. That they would have bought the brand even if they weren’t getting paid to wear it.”

On Tuesday Crawford entered Los Angeles’ oldest continually operated movie studio wearing the bronze edition of the Raptor. He spent time with guests and posed for photographs. There were street-ball players on a court that was lit by a wide stream of black-and-white promotional footage projected on a wall behind them with BrandBlack’s tagline, a different way to fly, occasionally popping up.

As Rivers said, Crawford is “different” as well. He didn’t mean it in terms of how Crawford related to his new apparel endorsement, but it fit all the same.  

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