LOS ANGELES -- Jamal Crawford thought he should have been selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game last month.
He tries not to think about it anymore, but it still stings him to think that the best and most enjoyable season of his career wasn’t worthy of an invitation to a game seemingly tailor-made for his skill set.
While some veterans begrudgingly go to the All-Star Game or simply go through the motions when they get there, Crawford had a variety of moves he wanted to showcase in the game. He has kept them in his back pocket since he was snubbed. But Wednesday night against with the Milwaukee Bucks, he put one on display that may go down as the best lob dunk in Lob City’s short history.
At 106-91 in favor of the Clippers, the game already was in hand by the time Crawford ran up behind Brandon Jennings and slapped the ball out of his hands with 6:20 left in the fourth quarter. Eric Bledsoe quickly picked up the loose ball, saw Crawford in front of him and Blake Griffin trailing in the open court and flicked the ball to Crawford.
“I knew I had to get it to Jamal,” Bledsoe said. “When you see Blake trailing, you know something is going to happen. Jamal is that type of player that’s going to come up with some creativity.”
Creativity is one way to explain what Crawford did as soon as he got the ball in his hands. With Griffin trailing him, Crawford didn’t even take a dribble as he lofted the ball up with his right hand, brought it between his legs in midair before leaving it perfectly placed in front of the rim for Griffin.
“I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do,” Crawford said. “We had a whole open court and the best jumper in the world right there and you might as well get creative. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do in a game or if I ever made the All-Star Game.”
Although the stage wasn’t quite as big as the All-Star Game, Crawford’s play probably will be replayed more than any from this year’s All-Star Game.
With Griffin leaping and Crawford still in midair, Griffin caught Crawford’s lob and brought it back for a windmill dunk that brought the sold-out Staples Center crowd to its feet ... and nearly broke Twitter in the process.
“I honestly had no idea what he was going to do,” Griffin said, sounding similar to Crawford when describing the play. “I thought he was going to throw it off the backboard. Normally in situation like that you’re looking at each other like, ‘What are you going to do?’ But he didn’t even look back and I was just kind of stuck out there. And I saw him do his little between the legs and I’ve seen that before in practice so I just tried to finish.”
Griffin’s idea of “just trying to finish” was a windmill dunk that brought the entire Clippers’ bench onto the floor and caused Griffin to laugh as he ran toward the bench.
“He windmilled it!” Crawford said. “That’s sick. You’re just supposed to catch it and dunk it.
“He said he thought I was going to throw it off the glass. When I threw it, I said, ‘Please, just dunk it. I don’t want coach to be mad at me.’ He caught it and took it to a whole other level.”
Chris Paul was on the bench when the play happened and was still shaking his head about it after the game.
“It was crazy,” Paul said. “Jamal is real tricky with the ball. I thought he was going to throw it off the backboard. It was a nice play.”
“We got a lot of guys who are really good with the basketball in their hands on this team,” Odom said. “You don’t see that too much where you have seven or eight guys that can pass, shoot and dribble. Even our bigs can do it. That’s what Blake is so underrated at. He’s one of the most complete basketball players in the game.”
Crawford was going through his Twitter mentions after the game, scrolling past LeBron James telling him that he and Dwyane Wade would steal his move and onto the NBA’s official account asking if it was the dunk of the year. Meanwhile, Griffin, Paul and other players were getting their first chance to see replays of it on their iPhones and iPads.
“I think that’s by far the best one,” Bledsoe said. “A between-the-legs lob -- you really don’t see that too often -- and then Blake finished with a windmill. That made the whole play.”
Griffin agreed, although he had a hard time going through all the lob dunks he has been a part of the past three seasons.
“It’s definitely one of the most creative as far as the pass,” Griffin said. “I don’t really rank them like that in my board at home.”
Crawford said the play is one of many he had planned if he had been selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game. Thankfully for Clippers fans, the NBA’s loss is now their gain.
“I had some things planned if I ever made it,” Crawford said. “Whatever. Now I just have to pull it out in the games every now and then.”