Suns’ Jamal Crawford celebrates 39 still enjoying the grind
PHOENIX — These are the dog days of the NBA season, where lottery-bound teams like the Phoenix Suns attempt to keep forward momentum.
Ten games remain on the year, and perhaps that reality weighs most on Jamal Crawford, who celebrated his 39th birthday Wednesday doing what Jamal Crawford does.
Playing ball and enjoying it.
“I’ve almost been in the NBA half my life, which is crazy if you think about it. You have to adjust, evolve, reinvent, everything in between,” he said.
Crawford was one of the last players on the court, taking in a three-point shooting contest against the teammate with the least amount of NBA experience in rookie forward Ray Spalding. The vet won despite banking in a set of threes from the wing and taking the final corner shots while standing out of bounds to give the big man a chance.
The scene painted a picture: Crawford is still enjoying the NBA game that he’s been a part of for 19 seasons. And so despite averaging the fewest minutes per game and least amount of point production since his rookie year, Crawford doesn’t appear to be thinking about what comes afterward.
“It keeps going. Why put a cap on it?” he said. “Just keep going. When it’s not fun anymore, then I’ll know. But it’s still fun.
“This year has been one of the more challenging years to be quite honest — on so many different levels — but one of the gratifying parts is seeing the younger guys take the next step. They don’t even know, this is the foundation for the rest of their career.”
SUNS GETTING HEALTHIER
Center Richaun Holmes practiced Wednesday and said he’s ready to play against the bulky frontline of the Detroit Pistons, who face Phoenix on Thursday in a game that will air on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
However, the Suns don’t expect either starting point guard Tyler Johnson (knee) or forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (thumb) to be back.
“Both of those guys, they (didn’t) practice today, and I would say usually if you don’t practice day before the game — I don’t anticipate they’re going to go through shootaround, that we’re going to play them,” head coach Igor Kokoskov said.
They are listed as doubtful, and T.J. Warren remains out with his ankle injury.
Crawford tends to be quite the complementary NBA player, but his praise of third-year pro Dragan Bender stuck out on Wednesday.
“I didn’t even, like, know it ’til I tweeted it. When I said it, I’m like, he is one of my favorite teammates ever because his demeanor as well — he has no agenda,” the veteran said. “When he wasn’t playing at the beginning of the season, he was telling guys what he saw out there, rooting for guys, no attitude. And he can be — I still think he has star qualities. It just depends on system and situations. So I love Dragan. I think he’s one of the best teammates for sure.”