Jordan Crawford admits that he loves to talk to smack on the basketball court, but his mouth may have led to a minor dustup with Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett during a pickup game a few weeks ago in Los Angeles.
Buried near the end of a Yahoo Sports story about Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio - whom Minnesota selected fifth overall in 2009 after a pre-draft deal with Washington — was the tale of a little spat between the future Hall of Fame big man and the Wizards guard with big dreams.
While explaining the lessons that Rubio has learned while training the past few months in Los Angeles, Yahoo NBA columnist Adrain Wojnarowski described an exchange a few weeks ago between Crawford and Garnett that included Crawford getting restrained by Paul Pierce and Garnett eventually slapping Crawford in the head.
When asked about the incident, Crawford wrote back in a text message that nothing happened and added, “Stop believing everything you read.”
On this day, everyone was still buzzing over Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford’s mistake of talking too much to [Kevin] Garnett a day earlier. When Boston Celtics teammate Paul Pierce tried to do Crawford a favor and push him away, Crawford urged Pierce to let K.G. go.
“I thought they were just kidding,” Rubio says, and maybe Crawford did too.
There are hard lessons to be learned in this league, lockout or not lockout. Eventually, Garnett reminded Crawford about that with a smack upside his head, a reminder to Crawford, Rubio and the rest of them: Elders will be respected.
A person who was at the gym in Reseda, Calif., that afternoon also played down the incident, explaining that neither side really wanted to fight but added that Crawford refused to back down to Garnett.
The person said Crawford started yapping because his team was winning handily. Garnett got upset and two players shoved each other before Pierce held back Crawford. When Pierce let go, Crawford squared up with Garnett, then turned and walked away. Garnett tapped Crawford in the back of the head and Crawford went back at Garnett before cooler heads prevailed.
“Jordan gained a lot of respect from people that were there,” the person said.
Garnett is a notoriously fierce competitor whose intensity has sort of reached cartoonish levels, with his scowls, chest-bumps and expletive-filled rants drawing more attention of late than his rebounds and mid-range pull-up jumpers. Garnett found a way to interject that persona into the labor negotiations, with multiple reports of his hard-line stance and angry glares disrupting talks last month.
Crawford had never played against Garnett in pickup game and Garnett has a reputation for bullying and intimidating players. Andray Blatche had some interesting battles with Garnett two seasons ago, so Wizards fans are pretty familiar with his antics. Coach Flip Saunders, who coached Garnett for nearly 10 years in Minnesota, once explained that Garnett tries to talk trash and serve as an irritant to get under his opponents’ skin and gain a competitive advantage.
Crawford said a few months ago in Las Vegas that he uses trash talk simply to motivate himself. “When I talk trash on the court, it’s not to talk trash and make the other player mad,” he said. “If you talk trash, then you got to play good, because you’ve got to back it up and that’s how I approach it. If I say I’m better than that person and I’m not, that edge is going to help me out. That helps me check people. I want to intimidate people before they come at me. I want to always be attacking.”