Ladies and gentlemen, your starting shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, and the only man to ever win the 6th man of the year award while playing for the Hawks: Jamal Crawford!
A tall thin man in a burgundy sports jacket, white shirt, and matching burgundy bow tie steps up to a microphone on an empty stage. The mic feeds back when he attempts to speak into it; he jerks back awkwardly before steadying himself.
"This summer was actually the first summer I worked on my game. I usually just play off of raw talent."
The only sounds in an empty auditorium are of the crickets outside.
"I've never actually been drilled before. Seriously. I told Blake that,
and he couldn't believe it."
A wind whistles faintly through the far off exit door.
"We have a great coaching staff...an organization that's committed to winning..."
The sound of muffled laughter can be heard coming from the parking lot.
|This seems like how you'd shoot this thing|
It appears that performance artist Jamal Crawford's recent attempts to amuse a mass audience have once again fallen mostly on deaf ears. Perhaps, the world simply isn't ready for the absurd humorist/NBA athlete combination. For years Mr. Crawford kept his dual occupation a secret, then in 2008 he let Dime Magazine in on the joke.
Dime: What do most of your teammates not know about you?
JC: They don’t know that I’m a comedian. The season for me is business, but off the court I’m really funny.
The cat was out of the bag, but no one seemed to care. The reprisal he had feared never came. Neither his teammates nor the league at large seemed to mind that Jamal was taking his summers off to pursue his love of comedy.
"Jamal's very hard working" an insider told Basketbawful reporters on condition of anonymity. "I can't comment on how much he works on basketball in the off-season, but I can tell you that he is extremely dedicated to his own idiosyncratic and somewhat inscrutable method of comedy."
|What a dedicated comic looks like|
that Jamal doesn't practice shooting was first reported by Helene Elliott of the LA Times. Since then, it's been picked up by USA Today, CBS Sports, and sundry blogs. This response however, has failed to satisfy the gag's creator. When asked how Jamal was perceiving the reaction to his latest comedic endeavor, the source added that the lukewarm response has wounded Jamal's sensitive artistic temperament.
I think he was really hoping that it'd be a bigger deal. As a player who's spent most of his career in the wake of the infamous "practice" press conference, Jamal wanted to create a living homage to that iconic moment while crafting his own statement on the role of cognitive bias within the spectator athlete relationship in post-industrial society. By refusing to acknowledge that he's joking, the onus of interpretation is left to the audience. For the moment, the audience is not rising to the challenge. It's kinda like the reaction to that film with Joaquin Phoenix, I'm Still Here, which didn't garner a lot of accolades or box office but may have contained some of the finest acting of his career.
While at Michigan, Jamal studied under Dr. Dummkopf von Ausfahrt, a renowned comic theorist. He absorbed influences from the dadaists and was exposed to the plays of the Theater of the Absurd, such as Ionesco's Rhinocéros, which was said to have had a profound effect on his world view.
|Poster from Crawford's dorm room|
Dr. Ausfahrt is an outspoken proponent of "anti-humor" and his athletic disciple has been known to echo his opinions in interviews.
BDL: I read that you're a comedian. What's the best joke you can tell me that's PG-13 rated?
Best joke? See I'm not good at just saying jokes, I'm just funny.
Dr Ausfahrt laughed as I read this quote
to him. "You zee here ve have ze very ezzenze of ze anti-humor approach. Zere iz no zuch thing az a joke," The doctor said overemphasizing every word in a sing song fashion, "Life! Zis is ze true comedy. You do not tell ze joke. Ze joke you live, live! Zee?"
While playing for the New
York Knickerbockers, Jamal passed on his knowledge of situationist humor to
teammate Stephon Marbury. In a case of the student surpassing the teacher, Marbury and his plucky alter ego Starbury went on to scale
heights of absurdity that even Isiah Thomas couldn't reach. "Jamal's ego was bruised by this," the source confided, "when he saw Steph crying on
youtube while rubbing Vaseline all over his bare chest, he had to admit
to himself that he just couldn't compete with that."
Bidding farewell to the bright lights of Broadway that he had dreamt of
as an aspiring comic, Crawford went west to Golden State because the
Warriors offered him the most appropriate venue for his devastating caricature of a contemporary volume scoring shooting guard. His stay was short lived and mostly spent
arguing with Don Nelson because it seemed like the thing to do, or at
least mildly ironic. Then he found arguably the greatest success of his
basketball career with the Atlanta Hawks, a team he selected because
they seemed to best embody the futility of his talent.
"He left the Hawks because the line between actual basketball player
and parody of a basketball player was getting too difficult to
recognize," revealed the insider, "He had become lost in his art. He
tried to clear his head out in the forests of Oregon, but the experience
just left him feeling more adrift and yearning for the glimmer of
Although Crawford still struggles with his audience, he has at the very
least recorded one victory for his comic sensibilities. Of all the
great shooters who have ever sweated out hours of lonely practice in the
gym, none can claim to be the all time leader in the greatest play of
all—the four point play. Only Jamal Crawford has earned that distinction.
"You zee ze brilliant subverzivenezz of ziz diztinzion." Dr. Ausfahrt exclaimed while pounding his fist down alarmingly hard on his desk. "Vhen you open up ze record bookz you zee Michael Jord-an, Vilt Chamberlain, John Ztockton, and here viz zeez names you zee Jamal Crawford! Zuch iz a profound mockery of ze very idea of a record!" At this point, Doctor Dummkopf von Ausfahrt was overcome with a sudden bout of Alien Hand Syndrome and had to excuse himself.
Although his latest attempt at comic gold was a flop, it wouldn't be beyond belief to see this dreamer score big one day with a smash hit. Hollywood can be a strangely forgiving town. Eddie Murphy starred in the Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2002 and has been in nearly twenty movies since then. A close friend of the clown prince of the hardwood believes he has what it takes to one day be more consistently funny.
Jamal's not gonna give up comedy just because people haven't cracked his sense of humor. He's not going to abandon his art just because it might offend people's notions of what a professional athlete is and how one should behave. Basketball has only been around a century or so, but he traces the origins of his artistic philosophy back to Diogenes.
Diogenes of Sinope was a founding father of cynicism in Ancient Greece. He used to harass Plato and masturbate in public until eventually he was shanghaied by some pirates. He ended up living his final days in Corinth, where he allegedly made fun of Alexander the Great. The friend concluded wistfully:
Empires and shooting efficiency stats fade away like the stars at dawn. Comedy is forever... or at the very least it lasts a week or so. We're talking a minimum of four to five days here.
|Diogenes momentarily not playing with his penis |