The Tweet went out in the middle of the afternoon on Friday, Aug. 22. The Seattle Pro-Am, also known as the Jamal Crawford Pro-Am, would be holding a special "Midnight Madness" run as a token of appreciation for the dedicated basketball fans of Seattle.
But what the basketball worshipping fans of Seattle didn't realize at the time was that this very public game announcement was actually an unspoken recognition of what would normally be a very private affair: Jamal Crawford's bachelor party.
Went back and forth about it, but Pro-am u guys have been great to us. It's a special weekend, so we have a special gift for you guys( cont)— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) August 22, 2014
Crawford has made big announcements before since taking over the responsibility of nurturing the Seattle Pro-Am from his fellow Rainier Beach High School alumnus and former Sacramento King Doug Christie. He regularly invited NBA superstars to come and play in Seattle, from former Sonic Kevin Durant to Kobe Bryant.
But this? This was different. A man so passionate about the game of basketball was inviting his closest friends for a fun run in the wee hours of his wedding day. And the more one thought about the idea, the more one realized this made complete sense for a basketball junkie like Crawford.
The combination of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" starting time and the promised rosters brought out an eclectic hoops crowd. As I rolled up to Seattle Pacific University after my two and half hour drive down I-5, the line-up to get in the gym was approximately six blocks long. For summer ball. At midnight.
The promised rosters and attendees featured not only the best of Seattle and Tacoma -- Crawford, Philadelphia's Tony Wroten, the Clippers' Spencer Hawes, Denver's Nate Robinson, Phoenix's Isaiah Thomas and former Washington star Will Conroy. -- but also a mini-roster of NBA stars such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes.
Even the coaches for the two teams were impressive, with dynamic little men in Robinson and Thomas running the sidelines. Both were nursing injuries and unable to play, but their lungs were in mid-season form as they trash talked each other and the actual players. Nate the Great was also in a marketing mood, sporting the new t-shirt for his Wings and Waffles restaurant in Rainier Beach.
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Like any well-planned bachelor party, this morphed into an EVENT. Multiple members of the Seattle Storm made a celebrity courtside appearance. Even rapper Wale, one of Crawford's favorite performers, made the trip. The only people missing from this eclectic group were Seattle mainstays Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore. They'd have to wait until the actual wedding ceremony and reception later on Saturday.
The game got rolling with immediate chants of "bring back the NBA." Sonics fans are a vengeful lot. The chant would ring out throughout the night.
The actual game was relatively well played. Dejounte "Baby Boy" Murray (Rainier Beach '15), a young local phenom, made his presence felt immediately, battling his mentor in Crawford throughout the evening. He finished with a 43-point outing, many coming in spectacular fashion. He's in high school.
But it was Paul that was the most impressive player throughout the early morning. In between his crafty dribbling, deep 3s and pinpoint passing, the Clippers point guard was busy arguing with referees for calls and generally playing like it was an NBA playoff game. It's good to see CP3 is essentially the same player in a pick-up game as he is battling for the NBA title.
The husband-to-be also had a strong game. Crawford always plays with joyful exuberance, never meeting a shot he didn't like. Between battling his young protégé and playing the welcoming host, he went for 41 points on this night. He scored while smiling throughout and basking in the joy of the simple act of playing ball. With his friends. With his family. With 3,000 of Seattle's dedicated hoops fans.
Jamal experienced the most original bachelor party in basketball. The next day, he was happily married. Not a bad 24 hours for an NBA player.
Random Things I Love About the Seattle Pro-Am
The game ball: I'm pretty sure it's circa 1994. It has that nice old brown patina from back in the day, unlike the more modern orange tinged ball.
The referees: They often dap all of the people sitting at the scorer's table. That's different.
The age range of the players: Donald Watts, 36, was the oldest player in both the Midnight Madness run and the overall Seattle Pro-Am.Jashaun Agosto, 16, was the youngest. The Pro-Am usually features NBA players, overseas pros, college graduates and a select few high school stars. There are no active NCAA players due to the 42,000 rules that govern such things. Of course, there are also a few local legends, could-have-beens and never-weres.
The plays: One thing that you notice immediately: regardless of the caliber of the participants, everyone wants to run the high or wing pick and roll. Very few players, whether NBA, overseas pros or high school kids, actually know how to run it. Amazing.
The players actually try: Who plays hard? Who tries to get over top on ball screens? Who cuts? Who runs hard? Who makes the smart extra pass? More often than not, players in the Seattle Pro-Am league actually TRY and do these things, which is very unusual in summer league. Still, like any summer league run, the quality of play is inconsistent. You are guaranteed to see a little brilliance and a little bit of dumb, indifferent and/or out-of-shape play.
I remember that name! My favorite moment from the Pro-Am this year: a coach patrolling the sideline while wearing a backpack (or book bag, for you Kevin Durant fans). Even better was the coach's name: Chuck Taylor. Disappointingly, coach Chuck Taylor was not wearing Chuck Taylors. Sneakerheads throughout the metro Seattle area wept just a little.
It was a family affair: Even though it was after midnight, there were a fair number of toddlers and little kids in the gym for this celebration of hoops. There's nothing better in the whole world than little kids busting moves and dancing, running around and practicing their hoops moves. Who needs a babysitter when you've got the Seattle Pro-Am summer league?
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