Jamal Crawford and the Atlanta Hawks are flying high this season. With a little over two months into the 2009 season, the Hawks are 17-6 and in second place in the Southeast division, just a half game behind the Orlando Magic. Atlanta is at least 10 games over .500 before Christmas for the first time since 1997-98 and they have also won six games by at least 20 points after combining for just five such wins in previous two seasons. A big part of the reason the Hawks have started off so well is their depth on the bench. This season they have more big men to get rebounds and have the best sixth man in the league, Jamal Crawford. Crawford would be a starter on just about any other team in the league as he is capable of dropping fifty points on any given night. In 2008, he became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least fifty points with three different teams. It has taken him a little bit of time to adjust to his new role of coming off the bench but he is doing whatever it takes for the team to win. Crawford is in his tenth season in the NBA and he has never been on a winning team. Can you believe that? What bad luck he has. In fact, he has the longest drought of any player to have never made the playoffs. That looks like it will change this season as the Hawks should battle it out for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. Crawford will not be satisfied by just getting to the playoffs. He wants a ring and dammit give it to him.
Jamal Crawford joined 790 The Zone in Atlantat with Morning Mayhem to talk about the team regrouping after the loss to the Knicks, the season being easier when you beat teams by twenty points, the players on the team accepting their roles and playing them well, and how important making the postseason is for him.
On the team regrouping after the loss to the Knicks:
“Yeah we really want to be an elite team. We feel like on any given night we can play with anybody. Every time we step out onto the court we can win. We can’t lose games like that. The Knicks are playing better but there is still no excuse. We look at ourselves as one of the elite teams in the East and we will continue to work until we get there. You know we have to win games like that.”
On the season being easier when you beat teams by twenty points:
“Yeah it is a lot easier. It takes pressure off of everybody. We don’t have to play perfect basketball. Guys who normally do not get in have a chance to show what they got. We work really hard in practice and some of those guys do not get opportunities. But when we win like that it makes everybody feel good. We like it and will try to continue to do it as much as possible.”
On the players on the team accepting their roles and playing them well:
“Yeah I think so. I think we were able to identify our roles pretty early and I think that was part of the reason for the fast start. Some guys are scorers, some guys are rebounders, and some guys are blocking shots. Everybody knows that we all have a role to play. The better we do it to our ability the better the team will be. That is what we are trying to accomplish.”
On how important making the postseason is for him:
“That is very important. Like I said before, it is not just the streak it is the fact that I have never played in it. I think once we get here I am not going to be satisfied. I want to help make some noise and I think we can really surprise a lot of people.”
On the winning mentality of the team early in the season and how important it is:
“If you look at the elite teams like Orlando, and the Lakers, and Boston that is what they do. They jump out very, very early on teams and everybody gets involved and they do it right from the start. I think it sends a message across the league and I have had people from other teams: Hey you guys won by 30 points again? You don’t really realize it while you are doing it but the league is taking notice for sure.”
Tags: 6th man, Atlanta Hawks, best 6th man in the league, best sixth man in the NBA, Eastern Conference, Jamal Crawford, longest drought of any NBA player, NBA, never made the playoffs, playoff drought, sixth man, Southeast division