NBA star Jamal Crawford starred in a Seattle Pro-Am game, his BrandBlack team winning 119-102 on Friday at KeyArena.
Only the final play didn’t go as Jamal Crawford envisioned.
The former Rainier Beach High star had the ball with 8.7 seconds left and his team down one point. The KeyArena crowd rose to its feet, eager to see what Crawford, now a Los Angeles Clippers guard, would do to get the win.
He stutter-stepped before taking a jumper. It missed, his BrandBlack team losing the Seattle Pro-Am game, 120-119, on Friday.
“I settled and that’s my fault,” said Crawford, who had 26 points and 12 assists in the game.
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Officially, BrandBlack won, 119-102. Crawford stopped the game with about five minutes left to tie the score at 100 and play competitive basketball to close an evening drenched in the city’s love for professional hoops.
Seattle Pro-Am, a nine-team men’s summer league, worked with the Storm to hold a doubleheader on Friday. The Storm lost to the Phoenix Mercury earlier in the night. The men’s game followed, the rosters coached by Sonics legends Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Lenny Wilkens. Players ranged from Crawford and Justin Holiday (22 points) to Terrence Jones (19 points) and Kelly Olynyk (27 points, nine rebounds, four blocks).
“Nobody was playing that incredible defense,” Wilkens said of his team being down 20 points before Crawford tied the score. “The fact that they wanted to do this is kind of special. It shows people that Seattle is alive and well.”
It was a first in uniting Seattle’s basketball community since the city’s WNBA and NBA franchises were split in 2008. The Sonics, after 41 years in Seattle, were relocated to Oklahoma City in a bitter battle. The Storm was purchased by four local businesswomen.
“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 (during play and made shots) and I got chills.”
A Pro-Am, in some form, has been part of the city’s basketball scene since the 1950s. Former NBA standout Doug Christie provided some stability in 1996 and passed it to Crawford in 2006. He remains the primary financial backer, capitalizing on Friday’s game to draw more attention to Seattle’s desire to have another NBA team.
Chris Hansen’s Seattle Arena Group purchased 2,000 tickets to the event, Hansen sitting courtside with Storm guard Sue Bird during the opening half of the Pro-Am game. The event had a KeyArena lower-bowl sellout of 9,686.
“When you get this on to social media and let the NBA know what’s going on and how these fans are still supporting basketball even though we don’t have a team, it’s a boost,” said Payton of the exposure. He hadn’t been on a KeyArena sideline with Kemp since 1997. “With Adam Silver being the (NBA) commissioner, he understands that. I’ve had a lot of conversations with him and true in my heart, I think he’s going to try to make it happen.”
Echoes of “SU-PER SON-ICS” chants were heard throughout the night and in every corner of the arena was a local sports celebrity. Slick Watts and Detlef Schrempf chatted with fans, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner tossed t-shirts, former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant participated in a race during a timeout and even Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jessica Fishlock was spotted.
“Any time I can play basketball in front of these fans and the community of Seattle, I’m all up for it,” said Isaiah Thomas, who played on the KeyArena court one time as a star guard with Washington. He currently plays for the Boston Celtics. “It was great and brought back so many memories.”