Like that of many Wizards players, Jordan Crawford's tenure in Washington was a mixed bag. Vacillating among hilarious quote machine, chucker-extraordinaire, game-winning savior, end-of-bench pariah, and cult-swagger hero made Crawford's time in D.C. as entertaining as it was frustrating.
In a recent interview with Michael Lee, Crawford said that when the trade deadline came in February, he "wanted to leave" and that it was "definitely time to go."
Crawford also talked to Lee about the different organizational environments in Boston and Washington. While he didn't find acceptance with the Wizards for his style of play, he has found that and more with the Celtics:
"[The Celtics] let everybody be themselves. Everybody a man over here. They treat you like a man and do things the right way," said Crawford, who scored 10 points in a Game 2 loss. "I'm around better people. People that, when they see talent, they appreciate it and they try to work you in. They accept real people around here."
In Lee's interview, Crawford definitely comes off as a sympathetic (while still classically cocky) character. Hearing him describe his time with the Wizards organization as being with "people that hold you back and hate on you for no reason" may sound abrasive at first, but it's no different than what many other former players have said.
Crawford's reaction sounds strikingly similar to that of Andray Blatche, who was the organization's second-most recent pariah. In November, Blatche complained that the organization wasn't there for him when he was struggling:
"They could've had my back. They could've done anything. I don't care what they could've done. It could've been small, than to say, you know what, ‘This is our escape route. We're going to leave him out for himself. He's going to have to fend for himself now,' " Blatche said. "No, that's not what you do when it's your family. And supposedly say this is a brotherhood. That's not what you do. I don't care, whatever my brother, my uncle, my sister, whatever anybody does, I'm going to have their back 100 percent. And that's what you do with family. That's all I'm saying.
"If we're family, then act like it."
While Crawford never really struggled in the same way Blatche did, the two would probably agree that the player-organization relationship is a two-way street.
"If they would've accepted what I was doing, plain and simple," Crawford said, when asked what could've kept him in a Wizards uniform. "I put in the work. Nobody else doing what I'm doing."
It's easy to see the "I" statements in both their words. From a team standpoint and from the standpoint of many fans and observers, that can definitely be interpreted as selfishness or a "me-first" mentality. And if a team is trying to build a culture that doesn't include people who cite their personal contributions as reasons to be applauded (as opposed to, say, blaming yourself if the team falls short), it makes sense to expunge that mentality from the locker room.
But if the efforts to which the team goes to rid itself of that mentality move into treating a player like a "knucklehead" or "cancer in the locker room" (which may have been the team's last options), then a pattern of negativity starts to emerge.
After Blatche's remarks in November, Randy Wittman was asked about Blatche's time in D.C. "We did everything we could to help him, as we will with every player that ever comes here."
I believe that's true for Dray, and I believe that was true for JCraw, as well.
Both Crawford and Blatche have talked about how much they've enjoyed their change of scenery and how their separation from the Wizards has allowed them to move on professionally. But they both have remarked that they didn't get their fair shake in the eyes of those watching in Washington.
In Blatche's own words:
"I'm quite sure, they can ask every last one of my teammates here and I guarantee you what they say about me is completely different than what y'all think of me in D.C.," he said. "For them to say, ‘Oh, he's a bad teammate. He's a cancer in the locker room.' He's this and that. All that was a bunch of lies! A bunch of lies. That's what really made me mad. That showed me, they tried to end me."
When asked what he has learned most from this season, Crawford said, "Let the haters hate. Simple as that."
Lots of teams rebuild their rosters and their identities and trade their players, but is there a pattern in Washington that leads to these burned bridges? Doesn't sound so simple to me.