The moves look rehearsed, as if he had spent hours working on them in the gym. The seamlessness of the finished product is too smooth to have been created on the fly. He couldn’t be improvising in the heat of the game, could he?
Jamal Crawford is capable of putting on a show with the ball in his hands at any time. Nicknamed J. Crossover, he continues to wow in his 14th NBA season thanks to a skill he calls “download moves.”
The term refers to Crawford’s ability to see a move once, remember it, tailor it to his in-game situation and carry it out on the court. He came up with the name while discussing the talent with former teammate Maalik Wayns during Los Angeles Clippers training camp this season, and he has been showcasing it throughout the playoffs.
“We were just talking about moves and different things and I said, ‘I download moves in my head,’” Crawford explained during the regular season. “I can pick them up and adjust to it. That’s where it came from.”
Crawford began studying plays long before he entered the league in 2000. He attentively watched stars like Allen Iverson, Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway, Anfernee Hardaway and Grant Hill, identifying elements of their maneuvers he wanted to incorporate into his own.
“Iverson and [Tim] Hardaway, obviously their crossovers,” Crawford said. “Isiah Thomas, he had the ball on a string. Grant Hill had a nice hang dribble, same thing with Penny. … I emulated them and tried to add a little something to them. I’ve been doing it so long and now I do it instinctively and it’s like second nature.”
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year credits his photographic memory for helping him transform a mental image into a reality. It also allows him to focus on other areas of his game while this aspect comes as second nature.
“We don’t really work on moves,” Crawford explained. “The best moves for me are the ones where I can make them up instinctively. That catches the defense off guard, and for me I can adjust to it so I’m more comfortable doing that.”
The Clippers will need Crawford to download his best moves on Thursday night. They face a 3-2 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“I’m comfortable in uncomfortable situations, it always helps,” said Crawford. “I’ve been doing it a long time. I think it’s a gift and I’ve always been able to adjust on the fly. I think that works for me.”