Jamal Crawford believes he’s ‘in the conversation’ for the greatest 6th man in NBA history

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Crawford believes he’s “in the conversation” to be considered the greatest sixth man in NBA history.

The retired journeyman of nine NBA teams acknowledged the part he played in making the reserve role more prominent and popular within the game.

“I almost gave it swag and gave it a face,” Crawford said. “‘He got game. If he can do it, oh, it ain’t so bad.’ Because you know, in our community, comin’ off the bench is frowned upon.

“Comin’ off the bench, doin’ what I did, doin’ it with swag and still winnin’ games and doin’ that, it gave it a face.

“To answer your question about the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) conversation, I would never say I’m the G.O.A.T. of that. I think I’m in the conversation.”

After starting every one of the 145 games he played in during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 NBA seasons, Crawford was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. It was there he began to embrace coming off the bench and was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the 2009-10 season. He did not start any of his 79 games played during that campaign.

He also went on the win the award with the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2013-14 season and for the 2015-16 campaign. Crawford’s three Sixth Man of the Year victories are tied with Lou Williams for the most in NBA history. This past summer, Williams said he and Crawford belong in the Hall of Fame.

The award, named in honor of Boston Celtics great John Havlicek, was first bestowed following the 1982-83 season. Only three other players have won the award more than once: Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf (twice each).

Other well-known winners include James Harden, Manu Ginobili, Bill Walton, John Starks, J.R. Smith, Danny Manning, Toni Kukoc and Bobby Jones.

Last season, Malcolm Brogdon won the award with the Celtics.

Crawford played 20 seasons in the NBA, debuting in the 2000-01 season with the Chicago Bulls and wrapping up his career with one game for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019-20 campaign. He also played for the Hawks, Clippers, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

He came off the bench in 894 of the 1,327 regular season games he played in and retired with career averages of 14.6 points, 3.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game.

Though his contributions never resulted in a trip to the NBA Finals – or even a trip to the conference finals – Crawford remains a key figure in league history as he helped change the perception of what a sixth man can be. For that, he rightfully deserves to consider himself among the best to ever do it, with the requisite hardware to back up that claim.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.