Jordan Crawford was back home in Detroit this summer, working on his family business after wrapping up a stint with the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association. In June, he took a break to suit up for Boeheim’s Army, the Syracuse alumni squad playing in the 2019 edition of The Basketball Tournament. He’s been busy, just not the sort of busy that might compete for the attention of a basketball world fixated on the NBA arrival of Zion Williamson and another insane summer of free agency and trades.
Ten years ago, thanks to one surreal, infamous moment that almost no one actually saw, it was a very different story.
In the summer of 2009, Crawford was a 20-year-old sophomore-to-be at Xavier, itching to make his mark after sitting out a transfer year. A three-star recruit out of Hargrave Military Academy, he’d averaged nearly 10 points per game as a freshman at Indiana before transferring. After a season in hoops purgatory, he finally got a chance to show out when he was invited to Nike’s Deron Williams Skills Academy. Drilling and scrimmaging alongside guys like Avery Bradley, Iman Shumpert, and Isaiah Thomas, he played well enough to earn a trip to what was then the premier Swoosh summer basketball event for high school and college players: The LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.
It was a big week for a guy who hadn’t played a game that mattered in more than a year, not least because, as Crawford remembers, “we heard LeBron was going to bring in a bunch of NBA guys, so that’s kind of what we were looking forward to.”
He had no idea.