On the bio section of his Twitter account, @jcraw55, Jordan Crawford mentions a very audacious ambition: “On A Mission to become the GREATEST!!!!!! WHY NOT?”
When asked to elaborate on that statement last month at the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas, Crawford explained how he believes Jordan will go down as the greatest to play the game — just not the Jordan you would expect.
“I don’t tell nobody, but I feel like I can be better than Michael Jordan,” Crawford said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm. “When I’m done playing, I don’t want people to say, Michael Jordan is the best player. I want that to be me. That’s how I am. That’s how I was built.”
Um, what? You realize people will look at you sideways and think you’re crazy for saying that, right?
“Yeah, I know that, I definitely know that. But I’m not settling for anything less,” Crawford said. “I feel like I’m better than him, anyway. My mom is going to say I’m better than him.”
Crawford cracked a smile, only because the comment was met with stunned laughter, but he was serious. It’s not even worth trying to explain how ridiculous that sounds coming from a late-first-round pick who was strapped to the bench in Atlanta and broke through with the Wizards only after Nick Young was injured. He averaged 16.3 points in 26 games, including 18 starts, for the Wizards after arriving in a trade-deadline deal last season.
But before anyone tries to check Crawford into the nearest institution, understand that he is speaking about more of a mentality than a realistic goal. Crawford believes that if he doesn’t step on the floor believing that he’s the best, then he’s already lost. “That’s what helps me get over the hump,” said Crawford, who turned 23 on Oct. 23.
Crawford may be laid-back most of the time, moving around with slouched shoulders and a carefree stride. But he has the confidence to believe that any shot is a good shot, so long as he can see the rim.
It’s the same confidence that pushed him to dunk over LeBron James during a pickup game before his junior season at Xavier; the footage was famously confiscated before eventually hitting YouTube. He is a fiery competitor who refuses to back down on the court and isn’t ashamed to tell his opponents about it.
“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.”
Crawford said teammate John Wall has a similar mind-set whenever he steps on the floor. Wall recently said that he wants to go down as the best point guard to ever play the game.
“John got the attitude that he’s the best all the time. When you’re around those people all the time, it’s going to rub off,” Crawford said. “Because in practice, if John Wall talks [trash] to Nick, Nick ain’t going to allow that, Nick’s going to come back at him. Once everybody get that installed in them, get that anger and that hatred in practice, it can all come together.”
Crawford said he is anxious for the NBA lockout to end so the Wizards can begin the turnaround from a 23-win season. He was thrilled to get the chance to play after getting traded from Atlanta, but he wanted to get more than playing time and the ultimate green light to shoot.
“It’s real tough for me, because I want to prove how much of a winner I am,” Crawford said. “More than how much of a scorer or stats, I just want to win. That’s what I want to prove and that’s what I want to bring to D.C. Once you bring that winning attitude to everybody, anything can happen.”
And he really means anything. He spent his time in Las Vegas trying to focus on becoming a better defender and playmaker but still couldn’t resist using a shoulder shimmy or two to get room to take a jumper or blow by a defender and score.
“I’m trying to become an all-star soon as possible,” Crawford said. “I ain’t talking about three or four years down the road, I’m talking about next year and I think that takes winning. That takes the whole all-around game. If you look, everybody can score. Everybody can do amazing stuff. The difference is if you’re winning.”
But um, about this better-than-Jordan thing, he had to be talking about the 48-year-old Jordan who currently runs the Charlotte Bobcats. Certainly not the 25-year-old, in-his-prime, sometimes-I-dream-that-he-is-me Jordan, right?
“Nah, I mean 25,” Crawford said.
Just let him have it.