Crawford Sets Record With Third Sixth Man Of The Year Award
LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul said earlier this season no matter what happened, Jamal Crawford’s the Sixth Man of the Year in the minds of all his teammates.
Now, for a NBA record third time in his career, Crawford’s earned that title to the rest of the NBA as well.
Crawford was named the 2015-16 Kia Sixth Man of the Year, an honor that meant a great deal to him and one he’ll cherish wholeheartedly, despite his modesty as he talked about the potential of winning the award throughout the season.
“It’s not something I take for granted,” Crawford said of the possibility of a third Sixth Man honor, something that had never been done before.
Entering this year, Crawford, Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf were the only players to earn the Sixth Man award twice. Even before Crawford became the first to be named a three-time Sixth Man winner, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said the award should probably be named after Crawford once he retires.
What might mean more, and likely one of the reasons he won the award once again, is that just about everyone who faces Crawford and watches the sparkplug off the bench feels the same way.
“I think those guys are so valuable, end of the shot clock, end of a quarter, give him the ball and let him make a play,” said Nuggets head coach Mike Malone. “Regarding the Sixth Man of the Year, the award will probably be renamed the ‘Jamal Crawford Award’ at some point. There’s not many guys who have done it better than Jamal off the bench.”
Crawford rarely likes to talk about his age, and his teammates like to joke that he’s Benjamin Button, as he seems to be getting younger as each year passes. At 36 years old, Crawford continues to get it done, breaking his own record as the oldest player to win the award.
He scored in double figures 58 times while averaging 14.2 points per game and ending the year second in the league with a 90.4 free-throw percentage. Rivers said he feels this season was Crawford’s best Rivers arrived as head coach, and Crawford also believes this has been one of his better years in the league.
With a revamped bench, Crawford thought he’d take a step back with more talent around him. But after a start that wasn’t what the Clippers hoped for, Rivers pulled Crawford aside Christmas night and told him he needed to be more aggressive.
“From that point on, we’ve kind of figured out our way,” Crawford said.
Crawford led the Clippers in fourth-quarter scoring this season and led all Clippers in total points 13 times. Since Dec. 25, he recorded the most games in the NBA with at least 15 points off the bench.
On the rare occasions where Crawford was called upon to start, he took advantage, scoring at least 30 points in four of his five starts this season. In the process, he moved past Chauncey Billups into No. 7 all-time in 3-pointers and into No. 89 all-time in scoring, surpassing Bob Cousy, demonstrating the longevity and consistency of the 16-year NBA veteran.
“I’m hoping I can still walk at 36, and he’s out there playing 30 minutes a game and getting shots up,” said J.J. Redick. “It’s impressive, his longevity, especially given how much he plays during the summer and hoops during the summer. It’s really an everyday, year-round thing for him. But, he loves the game. It’s been fun to be his teammate for the last few years.”
Crawford first won the Sixth Man of the Year in his first season coming off the bench in 2009-10 with the Hawks before winning it again with the Clippers in 2014. Lou Williams won the award last year before Crawford reclaimed the title this year.
“You take great pride in it, because you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m doing my part for the team and it’s about the team winning,’” Crawford said. “I just think it’s special. I really do.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul – “‘Mal had an unbelievable year. I was talking to ‘Mal about it. I saw somewhere where somebody had, like, pictures of him over the course of his career, and I actually have seen pictures of me over the course of my career and I’ve seen how much I’ve changed since New Orleans days and stuff. Jamal has been the same. He still looks now like he did when he came into the league, which is crazy. He’s like Benjamin Button.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers – “I’m assuming there’s not many players who have done it better. That’s what the award will be named when he retires – it will be the Jamal Crawford Award, I have a feeling.”
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan – “We ask a lot of everybody. A lot of those guys start when guys are out, so I wouldn’t call them backups. When Austin (Rivers) is playing great, Jeff (Green), Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal is playing great, we’re tough, man. I feel like we’ve got so much depth now that it can be anybody’s night.”
Clippers forward Jeff Green – “Like Doc said earlier this year, they should name the Sixth Man award after that guy. Night in, night out, he’s bringing it. People can say he’s this age, this age, but like I said, age ain’t nothing but a number…He has the ticket of youth. He’s getting it done.”
Hawks forward Paul Millsap – “He can handle the basketball, he can shoot. He’s one of the toughest guards in the NBA.”
Former Kings head coach George Karl – “He’s still one of the hardest covers in basketball”
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan – “He’s obviously a terrific 1-on-1 player. He’s got really good size; he’s really crafty with the ball; he can shoot over the top of people; he makes difficult shots. I think every game, whether he’s coming off the bench or he’s starting, he’s always been extremely aggressive for them.”
Nuggets head coach Mike Malone – “What a luxury to have a guy that you know you put in the game you can go to and he can get you 20 points in this league. Other teams have to game plan for that. He’s a tough, tough challenge and on top of that in getting to know him, as talented as he is – and I mean this sincerely – he’s probably a better person; one of the nicest, high-character kids I’ve ever been around. Big, big fan of his as a player and a bigger fan of Jamal as a person.”