As my colleague Eric Freeman noted Thursday night in discussing the announcement of the Eastern and Western Conference All-Star reserves, TNT analyst Charles Barkley argued hard for the inclusion of Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on the West squad, due in large part to the punch he's provided off the bench as the second-leading scorer on the team with the NBA's third-best record. His Clipper teammates, while admittedly biased, echoed Barkley's sentiment, noting the important role he plays in offering instant offense to bring L.A. back when the team's flagging or extend leads when it's pushed ahead.
Reasonable people can disagree over whether those arguments make sense and which Western selection, if any, was less deserving than the 32-year-old combo guard, but they ignore the primary reason to be bummed Crawford isn't an All-Star — we'd get to see him bust out his sick handle and killer crossover in prime-time against the best in the world in a game where nobody plays defense anyway and highlights are mandatory. It's a pretty perfect setting for his skill set, which, despite Crawford's insistence that he's playing the same as he always has, still has dropped jaws when showcased multiple times this season.
His off-the-bounce dance has made him a major weapon for Vinny Del Negro's team this season, and it's also inspired his teammates to come up with new nicknames that describe his play, according to Ben Bolch at the Los Angeles Times:
The move has spawned the Twitter handle @JCrossover and a legion of nicknames from his teammates. Chauncey Billups calls Crawford "The Mechanic" because he's always fixing people up with his ability to create space for jumpers or drives toward the basket. Grant Hill dubs his array of moves "The Barbecue Pit" because Crawford is constantly cooking his defender.
It makes sense that Crawford's moves would inspire AND1 Mixtape Tour-style nicknames; his handle-based, highlight-heavy, not-terribly-efficient game probably resembles streetball more than any other player in the contemporary NBA. Given how routine his shakedowns have become, it's understandable that his teammates would want to celebrate them with special monikers; given how much free time Billups and Hill have had as they've stayed seated and suited with injuries this season, it's understandable that they'd be the ones to come up with them.
But why should we let the old dudes have all the fun? Let's come up with some crossover-inspired nicknames of our own. I've got a few:
• The Raptors-Magic Highlights. Because Crawford's handle keeps putting opponents to sleep, which is word to Kenny Smith.
• The Sophist. Because Crawford's initial move is always plausible, but ultimately misleading; also, because it offers a seemingly reasonable justification for well-meaning ex-players and talking heads to make the ultimately fallacious argument that Crawford should be an All-Star in a loaded West despite shooting 42 percent from the floor as a reserve.
• The Black Jimmy Dolan. Because:
No Straight Shot.
• The Manti Te'o Story. Because when it's working, Crawford's crossover's pretty hard to believe. (Ditto for Jamal saying he never practiced shooting before this year and telling Bolch he "never practices his crossover — or his dribbling, for that matter.")
• Jamal Crossford. Because that would be very easy to say.