You don't even have to be a Seattle Supersonic fan or a resident of Seattle to appreciate what happened last night at Key Arena.
The night began with a WNBA game between the Seattle Storm and the Phoenix Mercury and concluded with a Seattle Pro-Am game between Team Brand Black and Team Ballislife. The game, which featured highlights from Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Olynyk, Terrence Jones and Martell Webster was exciting as expected, but the real excitement was seeing all the Seattle legends in the building.
For the first time since 1997, there was The Glove and The Reign Man in Key Arena exchanging high fives the way they used to after a Sportscenter worthy lob.
There was the great Lenny Wilkens from the 1979 Champion Sonics sharing a laugh with the man who inspired Jamal Crawford to wear a headband in his early days: Donald "Slick" Watts!
There was Brandon Roy, one of the best Seattle high shool players ever, sitting with his kids and Spencer Hawes of Seattle Preparatory on the sideline.
There was Payton hugging his NBA Finals teammate Detlef Schrempf
There was the crowd chanting "SUPER SONICS" the way they did when Seattle used to win the division title year after year in the 90s.
“Overall, it really was what I envisioned,” Crawford said. “But it was still so different. Running onto the KeyArena court, it gives you goosebumps. They started playing the old Sonics music and I got chills.”
Just like the chills Crawford gives fans when he unleashes a move so cold it freezes a defender.
THE JAMAL CRAWFORD RULES
Jamal, who had 26 points and 12 assists in the game, did miss the potential game-winner but unofficially his team won the game. With 5 minutes left in the game and his Brand Black team winning by 17, Crawford reset the score to 100-100 just so the crowd could see 5 more competitive minutes of basketball. As awesome and unusual as this sounds, I've seen Crawford do similar things in the past at the Pro-Am to make sure nobody leaves the court and arena feeling cheated.
Last summer at the Pro-Am, down by 1 with 9 seconds left in regulation, the refs called a very questionable foul on an opposing team putting Jamal at the line for 3 freebies. The call was so bad that Isaiah Thomas took off his shoes and jersey, exited the court and went to the locker room. Crawford then calmly stepped to the line and hit a free throw before intentionally clanking two free throws so the game would be decided by the players in OT and not the refs in regulation. Thomas ran back on the court, finished racking up his 47 points and came away with the victory. And just like last night at Key Arena, Crawford lost the game but won by sharing his love for it.
It's a love for the game and the city that's shared by many and hopefully one day, the NBA will be able to reward the city the way Jamal has, and bring basketball back to Seattle.
BONUS VIDEO: THE JAMAL CRAWFORD STORY
Crawford talks about growing up in Seattle, playing with Payton and Kemp while in high school and the Seattle Pro-Am.