TORONTO - Whether it was watching Jordan Crawford step up his game during Xavier’s NCAA tournament run or hearing about a LeBron James facial that would become the talk of the basketball world, DeMar DeRozan has paid attention to this explosive wing.
Tonight against the visiting Wizards, DeRozan will go toe to toe with Jordan for the first time at the NBA level.
Last summer, Crawford, who grew up in Detroit, made his way to L.A., where many of the game’s established and emerging ballers convene in an informal setting.
Later, DeRozan, a native of L.A., would run into Crawford in Las Vegas at summer league.
Friends who will become on-court foes, DeRozan isn’t surprised at Crawford’s ability to fill the net on a Washington team that has lost five in a row and 12 of its last 13 games.
“He’s definitely a terrific scorer,’’ DeRozan said of the rookie Crawford, who played all 48 minutes in Chicago on Tuesday in pouring in 27 points. “He’s a terrific shooter and when he gets hot, he’s definitely tough to stop.”
Crawford didn’t get much a chance in Atlanta, but he’s getting plenty of minutes and opportunities with the Wizards, an injury-riddled team that has won only one road game this season.
“In the NBA it can be a 360, and the next day you never know what can happen,” Crawford told reporters in Chicago. “Luckily I was ready. I want to feed off this game and keep going.”
Two years ago as a sophomore in college, Jordan dunked on James during a pickup game at a Nike-sponsored camp.
Rumour has it an amateur video of the dunk was captured, but later confiscated by Nike, which later chimed in that no taping was allowed at the camp.