Although Jordan and Crawford were never teammates in the NBA and the latter hasn’t played for the former on the Charlotte Hornets, His Airness helped JC develop the confidence he needed to excel in the pros.
Michael Jordan and Jamal Crawford became close in 2001
Jordan and Crawford developed a close bond in the summer of 2001 in Chicago. MJ played pickup games to get his body back in shape for his comeback with the Washington Wizards, and Crawford played with the six-time champion.
Not only did Jordan and Crawford never lose a game together, but the Chicago Bulls icon constantly gave words of encouragement to the Michigan product that stuck with him.
“Playing with MJ was one of the best things of my career,” Crawford told Anthony Puccio of The Association. “Here I have the best player ever, picking me up on his team and encouraging me to be aggressive, teaching me lessons along the way. What’s better than that? Once I was with him and he showed confidence in me, there was no looking back.”
While Crawford’s career got off to a shaky start after he tore his ACL playing in those pickup games with Jordan, he took off in his fourth season in the NBA and never looked back.
Jamal Crawford is one of the best bench scorers in NBA history
Crawford is undoubtedly one of the top bench scorers in NBA history. He not only won the Sixth Man of the Year Award three times, but he also scored a total of 11,279 points as a reserve during his playing career.
Like Jordan, Crawford began his career with the Bulls. However, he was well-traveled. The Seattle, Washington, native also played for the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, and Brooklyn Nets. Jordan, of course, only played for the Bulls and Wizards.
Crawford averaged 14.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 1,327 NBA games. He may not have been a champion like Jordan, who won six titles with the Bulls, but he had a successful career considering he tore his ACL after his first season and could have quit.
Jordan and Crawford faced each other four times in the NBA before the six-time Finals MVP retired for good in 2003. While neither player put up incredible numbers, one of them left with bragging rights.
Michael Jordan went 3-1 vs. J Crossover
During his Wizards stint, Jordan faced Crawford four times. The five-time MVP averaged 13.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. Although Jordan only shot 35.7% from the field, he did go 3-1 against J Crossover.
Crawford put up 13.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game against Jordan, the player he grew up idolizing. It certainly must have been a dream come true for him to play with Black Jesus in pickup games in 2001 and go against him in NBA contests.
Would Crawford have won three Sixth Man of the Year Awards had Jordan not showed confidence in him? It’s quite possible since the shooting guard was a gifted scorer and ball-handler during his prime. However, Crawford clearly values the words of wisdom and lessons he received from Jordan during those pickup games in 2001 and used them to flourish in the NBA.