Wolves’ Jamal Crawford knows what makes sports so great

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and jamal Crawford
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and jamal Crawford /

Jamal Crawford spoke publicly on why he joined the Minnesota Timberwolves in free agency and his reasoning shows that he knows what makes sports so great.

The NBA needs more players like Jamal Crawford.

In fact, based on some of the 17-year veteran’s first public words as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he may already be my favorite Timberwolf.

Discussing his Minnesota arrival with the Star Tribune, Crawford hits the nail on the head with what’s wrong with the NBA. At the same time, he shows that not all professional basketball players are looking for the easy route. Instead, there are still some that want the journey.

"“They showed they were serious, trying to get things done right away,” Crawford said. “I felt like the time is right. I felt like I could fit. At this point of my career, I could easily chase a championship. I’m not saying we won’t compete, but it’s not about that. I want to take the journey and go through the wars with these guys. The Cavs, they’ve been there. Those guys know what it’s like to be in the Finals and win a championship. The Warriors, same deal. If I went there and let’s say we happen to win, what’s next? Sometimes it’s more gratifying to help teams go from one point to another point.“That’s the challenge. That’s what so fun about it. What if you went to the movies and knew how it ended when the movie started? It’s exciting because nobody really knows what we can be.”"

I must say, I took a double take after reading this for the first time. In an age where professional basketball players seem to run towards the “super-teams,” Crawford defied all expectations with his opportunity to do the same. With rumors of the veteran heading to the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors, Crawford chose Minnesota and describes perfectly why that was the right move.

You see, Crawford sees the beauty in the game of sports. He sees what makes sports special. The journey.

Growing up, this is exactly what made me fall in love with the game of sports. That is, the gratification that came from battling with your teammates in an attempt to prove others wrong in the journey.

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Looking back, I was never on a top notch team. In football, I played for one coach from the time I was in fourth grade until high school. I grew up playing with the same group of teammates and I would do anything for my brothers on the field. I relished the opportunity to win a championship with the group I started playing with from a young age.

Yet, there was always one other team that consistently placed themselves at the top of our league. Year and year out, they continued to win championship after championship. They were that “super-team.”

Nowadays, losing to a team like that is discouraging, but then, it was fuel for the fire. Losing to them was what brought me back the next year to overcome them and reach the ultimate goal. A championship with my guys. In turn, it made the sport better. It made it fun as we sought to pursue something together that we hadn’t accomplished before.

As one of the top offensive linemen, it could have been easy to join the “super-team,” but I wasn’t interested in taking the easy way out. I didn’t want to win a championship on a team that has already been there, done that.  I wanted to overcome the odds with my teammates and experience the joy of earning a championship, not having it handed to me.

Although we never accomplished our goal, I don’t ever regret pursuing the journey. It’s what kept me coming back for more. Even if we had accomplished our goal, I know there would have been something else to aim towards.

This line of thinking is what I admire from the newly signed Crawford. As he puts it, he wants to help take the Timberwolves from “one point to another.” He wants to put an ending on a season that no one else expected, overcoming all odds.

In reality, that makes for the best stories in sports. One of the greatest I remember was back in 2008 when the New York Giants defeated the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Coming in as the number six seed in the NFC, no one gave the Giants much of a chance to make the Super Bowl, let alone beat the Patriots. Yet, they did it. They ended their journey with their ultimate goal in hand.

But, in today’s NBA, there seems to be a “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy that is destroying the game. If you don’t think so, just look at how uncompetitive the league has been the last three years. It’s almost been a given that the Cavs and Warriors would end up in the NBA Finals.

In the case of the Warriors, Kevin Durant joined the squad last season after falling to the championship team in an epic playoff collapse with the Oklahoma City Thunder one year prior. Of course, he played a huge part in them winning another championship this season, but where’s the journey in that? He made them into nothing. They were already a championship team. But, Durant isn’t the only player to take the easy route with a championship team, just one of many.

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As for Crawford, he could have easily signed for less than he’s worth with the Cavs or Warriors, something many have already done. He could have taken an easier route to a championship, but he knows what makes sports great. It’s the journey that leads to winning a championship and knowing that you helped bring a team to a place they haven’t been before or in quite some time.

Hopefully, Crawford can start a trend in the NBA because the league needs more players with a journey mindset. A mindset that doesn’t back down from the odds, but embraces them, taking into account the satisfaction that comes with the process of reaching an ultimate goal. There’s no doubt in my mind that if all NBA players had this mindset, the game would be far better for it.

Here’s to Crawford being a part of that journey with the Timberwolves, hopefully bringing championship success in time to the great state of Minnesota.

Next: Is the Jimmy Butler trade good or bad for Andrew Wiggins?

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