Jamal Crawford played nearly two decades in the NBA, his career intersecting with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. And yet, well, his new job still gives her goosebumps.
Beginning this season, Crawford will be a full-time member of the NBA on TNT’s Tuesday night show, a role he played part-time last season, exchanging jokes and insights with the NBA legend. WNBA Candace Parker, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and host Adam. Lefkoe. The very thought of it certainly makes him a little queasy.
“I’ve never been jaded,” Crawford said in the crossover podcast, in his first extensive interview since joining Turner Sports full-time. The chain made the hiring official on Thursday. “Tupac wore Shaq’s shirt! Biggy Smalls wore Shaq’s shirt! Michael Jackson, in his New York apartment, had a life-size cutout of Shaq! Like Shaq is amazing. And I’ve never, ever, ever been sick of it.”
He added: “I’m still sitting there like, ‘Dang, that’s Shaq.’ Or, ‘Hell, that’s Charles (Barkley)’. Or, ‘Hell, that’s Kenny (Smith)’. Or, ‘That’s Ernie (Johnson) right there.’ Like, I’m a student and a fan of the game. And I just have a certain level of consideration, respect, for these guys that came before me. That will never go away. The child in me will always be there.”
Crawford, one of the most creative scorers of his era and a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, replaces Dwyane Wade on Tuesday’s show after Wade left to pursue other interests. As part of his multi-year deal with Turner, Crawford will also appear regularly on NBATV Center Court and NBA GameTime. He will make his debut this season with an NBA Twitter Live show on opening night, Oct. 18.
It’s not a career transition that the 42-year-old Crawford envisioned. Just a year ago, he was still hoping to extend his playing career. As those hopes faded, Crawford began receiving offers from teams looking to add him to his front or coaching staff. He then took some fill-in shifts with TNT and NBATV, and was hooked: “I got the bug,” he said.
“You get this thing that you fall in love with, and you didn’t even know it was there,” Crawford said, “and that’s what’s great.”
The full episode of Crossover with Crawford drops Friday morning. Listen and subscribe here.
Among other topics, Crawford discusses the challenges facing the Suns (in the wake of the Robert Sarver controversy) and the Celtics (in the wake of coach Ime Udoka’s suspension), and picks his favorites to reach the Eastern Conference finals. and West. He also reveals how close the Clippers came to boycotting a playoff game in 2014, following the revelation of racist comments from owner Donald Sterling.
More NBA coverage: