Jamal Crawford of Clippers wins NBA Sixth Man
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Just as he has to wait to come into games, Jamal Crawford had to be patient about receiving the NBA Sixth Man Award.
The 34-year-old guard was honored on Thursday, a week later than usual. The delay was caused by the controversy involving team owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by the NBA after a recording surfaced in which he made racist comments.
"We've known it for a while, but obviously with all the stuff going on we decided to try to let it die down before we gave him the award or he would never be able to talk about the award," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm glad we're finally able to do this."
Crawford became the oldest recipient and the first to win with different teams. He also was honored as the league's best player off the bench while with the Atlanta Hawks in 2009-10.
"It's pretty cool," he said during a presentation at the team's practice facility, with teammates including Chris Paul and Blake Griffin cheering him and poking fun of his suit and tie.
"I didn't know what a family was on the court until I got with these guys," an emotional Crawford said. "I've been on a lot of teams and usually guys, they go their own way. But with us, everybody is included, everybody is a part. They make everybody feel like family."
Crawford led the league's reserve players in scoring this season, averaging 18.6 points. He came off the bench in 45 of 69 games he played in, helping the Clippers to a 57-25 record, their best regular-season mark in franchise history.
Crawford went so far as to say he hopes to spend the rest of his career with the Clippers, an organization roiled by Sterling telling his friend V. Stiviano that he didn't want her to bring black people to Clippers games.
"As long as I'm with this group of guys and with Doc leading us, everything else will work itself out," Crawford said.
The Clippers had a 31-14 record when Crawford came off the bench this season.
Crawford set the single-season franchise record for 3-pointers made with 161. That surpassed his record from last season, his first in Los Angeles, when he was runner-up for the Sixth Man award.
"He can score in his sleep," Rivers said. "I've never seen a guy that can sit for 15 minutes and literally be on the floor for a half-second and they swing him the ball and he's ready to shoot and make some shots."
Rivers even made an exception to his policy of not running a play for someone when they first enter the game.
"He's a lethal scorer, but he adds more value when he does other things," the coach said.
Rivers was among those in the NBA who knew Crawford by reputation, a player who only wanted to score and not defend. But Crawford put that to rest this season, especially when Paul was injured.
"This year he's ran the point guard position, he's been my best passer at times when C.P. was out," Rivers said. "He's been our defender, he's in the right spots. He's been a complete team guy, so I'm really happy for him."
Crawford received 57 first-place votes and 421 total points from a panel of 125 sports writers and broadcasters throughout the U.S. and Canada. He joined Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf as two-time winners.
Taj Gibson of Chicago finished second with 395 points and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili was third with 138.
Crawford had his best month in January, scoring in double figures in 15 of 16 games and helping the Clippers go 12-4 that month.
On Jan. 25, he had 37 points and 11 assists in a win over Toronto — the most points he scored off the bench in his career and his most with the Clippers. It was the second time this season he had that many points and assists; he totaled those numbers against Sacramento on Nov. 29.
Crawford missed 13 games in March and April because of a sore Achilles tendon, but rallied to return in time for the playoffs. The Clippers and Thunder are tied 1-1 in their Western Conference semifinals series.
The award sponsor Kia will donate a 2015 vehicle to a charity of Crawford's choice.