Jordan Crawford cared less about winning than anyone I've ever met. (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
WASHINGTON (WUSA-9) -- I didn't intend to write a Jordan Crawford trade blog post when the deadline deal originally went down Thursday afternoon.
Then came the outpouring of reaction blasting this trade, which I thought was baffling. Let me go full circle here.
It was obvious to even the homeless guy who plays the drums outside of the Verizon Center that the peevish guard was on his way out of town. "Steez," as he affectionately became known after one of his comedic media sessions, Crawford tallied a total of 11 minutes the last six games and saw his run time in January nearly cut in half. He gleefully sulked on the bench during the past four games, relishing in his role as the uncooperative soul -- good luck getting away with that in Boston. Crawford, who has compared himself to Michael Jordan, thought his role as a sixth-man was beneath him. He'd rather not play.
So the organization pulled the plug on the entire charade. They swallowed any amount of pride they had left and gave away Crawford for [insert any generic dollar store item here]. Wizards fans are programmed to forever instill every ounce of their hatred towards Ernie Grunfeld, no matter what kind of deal is made. As I circle on towards my main point, the lack of interest from any other contender outside of Boston shows how winning organizations view Crawford.
I've defended some of Grunfeld's recent moves, but called for his firing following his laughable press conference in June. Local basketball fans can no longer look at the Wizards objectively. Too many bridges have been burned. Too many trades have been authorized to "just get rid of somebody, not to actually try and get somebody," tweeted Wizards beat reporter Michael Lee. So the backlash towards Grunfeld is understandable. Wizards fans are stuck with him. But for those who know what winning basketball looks like, the reaction to Crawford leaving still is amiss.
I get that die hard fans and loyal bloggers empathized with Crawford because he was the Wizards class clown. He provided dozens of hilarious pixels through Dan Steinberg, Wzznts, Bullets Forever, DC Sports Nexus, RecordsandRadio and Truth About It. Crawford was a vice for all the losing; someone who we all related to. He had long lost all hope in there ever being a successful edition of the Wizards, just like most of us have in the year 2013.
So we chose to ignore his selfishness, his arrogance, his knuckleheaded ways. From the outside looking in, Crawford was a symbolic figure to Wizards fans. The only one outside of John Wall who has truly mattered; an occasional electrifying scorer who won Washington several games during his tenure.
But let me paint you the bloody truth about Crawford and why this deal was bound to happen: he was the laziest defender on the roster, the one who didn't give a flying f*** about winning, or team chemistry. You can let someone like Monta Ellis or Deron Williams get away with behavior like that. But not Jordan Crawford.
Or how about this nugget (which you'll see itself play out in the upcoming year):Crawford was sabotaging Bradley Beal from becoming the leader of the Wizards.
Beal, who let's remember is still 19, effectively bossed around older players at Florida last season, and the Gators began to click. He's a much more cerebral leader and speaker than John Wall, who would gladly hand the authoritative keys to Beal. Here's the thing: Wall wasn't around for the first few months of the season and at the exact same time Crawford was flourishing (averaged 19.1 ppg in December) and Beal was sputtering. Crawford acted like the alpha dog and wasn't welcoming to Beal. Randy Wittman idiotically let this situation continue to play out, delaying Beal's emergence and giving false hope to Wizards fans about Crawford's fools gold appeal.
Now Beal won't feel like he's stepping on anybody's toes. Using one of Crawford's old quotes, "people gravitate towards me," is actually true in a good way about Beal. Without Crawford snorting laughter in the background and undermining any type of serious approach to basketball, Wizards fans are about to meet the real Bradley Beal.
I don't mean to sound pompous, but I've been around the Nationals, Redskins and Wizards locker rooms. I'm not calling myself an expert, but you can feel vibes when you're that close to a sports team. I realize the NBA is more of a flamboyant, me-first work environment, but the Nats have zero players with a comparable attitude to Crawford.
The 'Skins have one player comparable to Crawford and it's DeAngelo Hall. It's much easier to ignore Hall in a 60-person room than it is Crawford in the Wizards 15-person close-knit crew. But at least Hall pretends to care about winning. Crawford doesn't even put on an act.
Wanting to win is contagious if you have right people in leadership roles -- ask the Redskins players about Robert Griffin III. Beal now has a chance to start developing those skills. Comcast tweeted this on point statistic on Thursday, which shows Beal is a more confident player with Crawford out of the picture.
You are who you surround yourself with. That goes in groups of friends, co-workers and NBA locker rooms. Jordan Crawford was the last piece of shrapnel left over from the knucklehead Wizards era. Crawford was never as big of a cancer as Andray Blatche or JaVale McGee, but his irrational persona had become a misfit puzzle piece. Certain players don't value winning. Crawford was that way in D.C. Maybe he will change in Boston while surrounded by savvy veterans. Maybe not.
Regardless of his future, it seems like Washington is finally done trying to pretend certain players are the right fit. Calling for Grunfeld to be fired at this point is like seeing homeless people in the city: we are all desensitized to it. Bitching about Grunfeld is extremely bad for your health. It's time to accept he's here for at least another season and admit his riddance of Crawford was the right step.
The last final mess for Grunfeld to clean up, you ask? Jan Vesely.