LOS ANGELES -- Jamal Crawford is too nice of a guy to publicly voice displeasure about losing out on the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, so he quietly congratulated winner J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks.
It also helps that Crawford has some experience in dealing with the snub.
Earlier this season, Crawford was left off the NBA All-Star team in a move many across the league felt was a mistake. Now, despite leading what is considered among the top bench units in the league, Crawford is again left empty-handed.
“That’s twice in the season, but congrats to J.R.,” Crawford said. “I think he had a heck of a season as well.”
Crawford said he wouldn’t let the disappointment get to him. He said he learned at the All-Star break that awards and honors such as those given out by the NBA are decided by a vote, and voters can go certain ways for different reasons.
“I learned with the All-Star Game that you can only control what you can control,” Crawford said. “Whenever it’s up to the coaches or media or whatever, you expect the unexpected.”
Coach Vinny Del Negro campaigned for Crawford to win the Sixth Man Award and expressed disappointment Monday that the 13-year veteran didn’t win it. He pointed out Crawford’s knack for fourth-quarter scoring and clutch performance at the free throw line this season.
Crawford set a franchise record with 149 3-pointers, averaged 16.5 points off the bench and shot 87.1 percent from the free throw line in helping the Clippers to their best season in franchise history.
“He’s been a huge catalyst for us from day one,” Del Negro said. “It’s hard for me to look at it and say Jamal didn’t deserve that. Other guys are obviously very deserving, but you’d be hard-pressed, I think, to find somebody more deserving than Jamal.”
Crawford had a more consistent season than Smith from beginning to end, but Smith emerged in the second half and was the second-leading scorer on the Knicks. He also plays in a bigger media market than Crawford, and the vote was determined by the media.
“I can’t say I was shocked, honestly, because I had seen where it started going over the last couple of weeks,” Crawford said. “I look at the whole season from start to finish, but I’d seen where people started kind of going with it toward the end.”
Although disappointed, Crawford said he could take solace in the fact that he was in the conversation for the award and the All-Star Game. He had an off year in Portland last season, and whispers around the league were that he was losing a bit of his game, so proving his doubters wrong was his main goal.
“To be perfectly, perfectly honest, coming in to the season, winning the Sixth Man or All-Star wasn’t on my radar,” he said. “It was more just kind of getting my respect back because people thought I had lost a step going to Portland, and that was a heck of a year and it motivated me to be ready coming into this year, so that was No. 1.”