There are two basketball related things I like to bring up every January 26th. One is Jamal Crawford has never been an NBA All-Star. That thought comes up because the NBA All-Star reserves start coming out around this time and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a name and said, “I bet this guy will be a trivia question one day that the casual basketball fan will get wrong.” The second thing is Jamal Crawford, along with Hall of Famers Bernard King, Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone are the only players to ever score 50+ points with three different teams. That thought comes up because, on January 26th of 2007, Jamal had his second 50-point game. What makes this 50-point game so special is I actually consider it one of the most impressive and unappreciated 50-point games in NBA history.
Let’s back up a little.
Four night before this historic night, the Knicks played a Wade and Shaq-less Miami Heat and somehow lost by 18, despite 23 points and 9 assists off the bench from Crawford. The Knicks played the Suns next and again went home losers, despite 29 and 11 from Crawford. The struggling Knicks then had to face the defending Champion Heat again, with Shaq and Wade back in the lineup. Everybody was thinking only an act of God could help the Knicks win this one and that’s kind of what happened.
“That was heavenly intervention,” said the Knicks Jerome James.
Crawford was a basketball God that night. After missing his first four shots, Crawford went from mortal man to basketball God and made 16 straight shots, including eight 3-pointers! His next miss didn’t come until late in the 3rd quarter with the Knicks up by 20.
“The way how Jamal played tonight was incredible,” Knicks guard Stephon Marbury said. “That was the best performance I’ve ever seen inside the Garden other than Michael Jordan.”
With such a big lead and Wade going to the bench while waiving the white flag, Coach Isaiah Thomas had Crawford commit a foul with almost seven minutes left in the game so the fans could give Jamal a much deserved standing ovation. He did the get applause for leaving the game with 52 points on 20-for-30 shooting and becoming the third Knick to ever to score 50+ points in less than 40 minutes. But Thomas also got some complaints from fans who wanted to see Crawford go for 60 and/or break Bernard King’s MSG record. Considering it was what Crawford called, “the hottest night of his career,” scoring just eight points in the next seven minutes wouldn’t have been much of a challenge. That is unless the other team took the record-chasing personally and decided to stop Crawford by any means necessary.
On a recent podcast interview with Woj, Crawford talked about that night and said the “old school” Thomas had too much respect for the game to leave him in with the Heat stars on the bench; he also wanted to make sure the Knicks didn’t have a repeat of what happened when the Knicks left their starters in the previous year while they were up by 20 against the Nuggets.
I also had the pleasure of discussing this night with Crawford during a 2015 interview with him. You can go to the 31.45 second mark of the following video to hear him talk about the night or you can just watch the entire thing and hear him discuss the other two 50-point games, his NBA records, his passion for basketball, his commitment to his community and realize the difference between a true basketball star and an NBA All-Star.
Source: NY Times