Tuğçe Candemir

“Floyd Mayweather FaceTimed me at five o’clock in the morning and said ‘Hey, pack your stuff up and you are coming to Vegas to workout at Impact.’ I left in the morning and I was there for three or four days. I got to the hotel and I didn’t hear from nobody. I didn’t know when I was working out. I’m likewhat am I doing out here?


It was a significant moment that signaled a turning point in the career of one of Europe’s fastest point guards, as his career path was about to change. In the years to come, Jordon Crawford was going to establish himself as one of the fastest guards in Europe and gain recognition for his exceptional ball handling skills. He would also consistently make an impact with his clutch last-second baskets. But first, he would have to pass the test set by Floyd Mayweather, with whom he would become very close friends in the years to come. The ball took Crawford across continents and with each team he played for, his game matured and he worked nonstop. His most recent stop was in Turkey, but Jordon’s overseas story goes all the way back to Northern Cyprus. We sat down with him to talk about his remarkable overseas basketball career, his insights into game development, and being best friends with legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather.


Crawford’s Overseas Journey: Hooping Through Countries


“Once I got into the G League, I wanted to use that as leverage to take me to somewhere else. I didn’t know what it would be or where it would be. But I wanted to use it to take me somewhere else.”


Stepping into the international basketball stage can be tough, especially for American players who often have doubts about playing overseas. Imagine being in a completely unfamiliar place, struggling with language and homesickness, all while trying to shine on the court for your team. It’s definitely a big challenge. Out of these difficulties comes a story of strength. Crawford’s journey takes us to Northern Cyprus, where he began his adventure in overseas basketball. This is a story about overcoming challenges, not just in sports, but in life.


Jordon’s first overseas stop was Mapfree Life in Northern Cyprus. Even though it was a league usually played by people who didn’t play basketball for a living and had day jobs, Jordon’s experience in Northern Cyprus gives us clues to his dedication to maximizing training opportunities. With practices scheduled in the evenings, he found himself with a lot of free time during the day because most of his teammates had nine-to-fives. Instead of wasting his downtime, he says he turned the situation to his advantage and looked for the ways to maximize his training opportunities.


After his experience in Cyprus, he spent three seasons in the G League, and his approach to the G League shows his determination to use it as a stepping stone in his career. “I wanted to use that as  leverage to take me to somewhere else. I didn’t know what it would be or where it would be. But I wanted to use it to take me somewhere else.” says Crawford. His goal was to reach new levels in the basketball world, regardless of the league or the team. So to reach those levels, the next stop was in Europe, Germany for Jordon. He describes his following experience with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg as a “learning experience”, but points to Afyon Belediyespor as the team where his game style matured. 


Crawford spent three seasons in the Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL) and his first experience in Turkey was with Afyon Belediyespor. Then after a season with Élan Chalon in the French League he returned to Turkey to play for ONVO Büyükçekmece and spent two seasons there. As Jordon recalls his year in Afyon: “That was kind of the year that whether it was confidence, whether I started to understand the European style of play. That was probably the key year.” Since small cities can sometimes be challenging, Jordon explains how he balanced his social life and basketball career while living in Afyon: “I had a gym attached to where I stayed at, and I could get in there 24 hours a day. And our coach was cool enough out there. Every game we used to get two days off. So I had my social life by staying in Istanbul and hanging out there – me and my wife doing stuff. I got my work in during the week, and they had days to still have my social life. So it was perfect.”


Making an Impact by Dominating the Game


“If it’s a taller defender on me, I know it’s gonna be a good night.” 


Being an overseas professional is certainly not easy and requires dedication. When you consider that each domestic league has its own style of play and variables, it becomes even more difficult to make an impact on the court. But if you have ever watched Jordon on the court, you have probably seen how easy he makes everything look. Obviously, it’s a combination of reading the game well and being in the right place at the right time.


Becoming one of the best scoring guards in Europe is no easy feat. Exceptional speed and skill make Jordon Crawford one of the fastest and most dynamic guards in Europe. When he’s on the court, his passing ability often leaves you wondering “how many players can make that pass?” and when you add it all up, it’s no surprise that he was one of the top scorers last season.


There are advantages to playing fast, however the ability to change speeds is, perhaps, even more important to be effective in Europe. From Crawford’s perspective,European basketball has traditionally focused more on structured X’s and O’s play, which requires making the right reads and slowing down the game. He emphasizes the transition dimension of the game, saying “I think you can see that in the EuroLeague as well like the teams that struggled last season, like Alba Berlin. They were always a team that were running cuts – back cuts, flares, no dribbling, and that’s hard to guard but the game is transitioning. So I think that’s our advantage (as Americans) coming over here and playing fast. And we’re used to playing like that. In the NCAA, they press the entire game and play fast. So I think, we played like that our whole life. So coming over here and playing that way, it’s normal.”


In terms of ball handling and creativity, he stands out as one of the most creative guards with his combination of dribbling and footwork. From a young age, he always had a basketball by his side, even watching AND1 and other shows and practicing these moves outdoors to master his skills. He highlights the importance of working with Ray McCallum during his junior year: “I went out to Santa Monica to work with Ray McCallum, he was working with D-Rose, Kevin Love, Tyreke Evans at that time in their prime. All we were working on was catching off of different pivots. The whole summer was working on different pivots. And after that, I kind of just started just adding my own thing to it, because I felt comfortable with each pivot. And I think from there, I just kind of built off of that.”


Even with such an array of creative moves, Crawford recognizes the importance of keeping the game simple and making right reads in pick and roll. His approach to pick and roll is very calculated as he targets the weakest or slowest defender. Once the pick and roll begins, he pays close attention to the bigs’ actions. If the defender is not aggressively stepping out to defend, he immediately looks for an open three-point opportunity. At the same time, he watches the weak side of the defense to determine how it will react. When the defender’s approach changes, he reacts quickly, either passing to the short roll or using quick passes to exploit defensive gaps. Because of his ability to dismantle a defense by passing and scoring, Crawford often sees defenders of varying sizes. Surpisingly he explains that having a taller defender is always easier compared to a similarly sized defender since taller defenders try to be more physical. Jordon points out “I feel like the smaller guards is where I probably have the most problems because some of them are almost as fast as me or are close. Even on the defensive end, I’m not used to it as well. But if it’s a taller defender on me, I know it’s gonna be a good night.”


Turning Defeats into Drive


“I think it’s just based on the energy. When the energy goes down and people are kind of moping around, that’s when you have to be a leader, be the bad guy.”


Your team started the season with a seven-game losing streak? Not a big deal when you have a teammate like Jordon who is a great leader and a fighter! There is no doubt that Jordon has a lot of qualities that make him special on the court, but his leadership is worth mentioning. His last season with Büyükçekmece says a lot about his motivation and leadership qualities.


Despite not making to the playoffs, this season was a reminder of the competitive spirit of both Jordon Crawford and the team Büyükçekmece. Starting with a difficult run of seven straight defeats, Jordon recalls how the team believed in themselves and the moment that changed the season. The breakthrough came with a crucial win against Bursaspor, marking a turning point in the season. This victory created a momentum for the team that led to a series of wins. One of the highlights of this season was Jordon’s incredible impact on offense and his crucial game-winning last-second shots. Although they progressed throughout the season, they failed to qualify for the playoffs at the end of the regular season. 


Jordon says “Anywhere you play or anything that you play, if you lose in a row, it is always difficult, because you’re competitive.” However, his approach to leadership is versatile. When energy levels are low and teammates seem discouraged, he steps up to leadHe stresses that maintaining a positive atmosphere is the key: “I think it’s just based on the energy, like when the energy goes down and people are kind of moping around, that’s when you have to be a leader, be the bad guy. But as long as things are still positive and moving, then you just stay the course.”


Crawford believes in the importance of communication between players and coaches in being a leader and pulling the strings when necessary. He also talks about how his communication with coach Özhan Çıvgın was a game changer for Büyükçekmece last season: “We had a great relationship where I would text coach and say ‘Hey, I don’t know if the guys are tired.’ And he was saying, ‘What do you think we need to do?’ and I was like, ‘Yo, we need just players only dinner’” shares Crawford. Although this kind of coach-player communication is not something we hear very oftenthis anecdote provides insight into the dynamics of teamwork, and shows the impact of communication and adaptive leadership in creating a positive team environment.


Learning From a Champion: Crawford’s Friendship with Floyd Mayweather


The basketball court and the boxing ring – twocompletely different arenas, right? But when a boxer takes on the role of guiding a basketball player, it highlights the surprising connections that unite two athletes from different sports. During the course of every career there will be seasons full of wins and losses yet the value of having a champion in your corner is invaluable. How would you feel if a legendary boxer told you that he was going to put you in a position where you would be visible? That’s exactly what Mayweather told Jordon, and only after passing the test Mayweather prepared for him, Jordon was going to realize that nothing would ever be the same again. 


Crawford’s friendship with Floyd Mayweather developed during his time as the training partner of one of his best friends, Adrien Broner. One day, Mayweather approached Crawford with an unexpected offer to help further his career, recognizing his potential and talent. He recalls the moment, saying, “I came home one time from my first year overseas, went straight to Vegas for Adrien’s fight. And we were in the gym and Floyd Mayweather is like, ‘Yo, you hoop right?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah’. He is like ‘I’m gonna put you in a position to be seen.’”


That was just the beginning of a very strong friendship, and right after that conversation, Mayweather put Jordon to a test. But Jordon was clueless at the beginning. Surprised but excited, he accepted the opportunity and embarked on a life-changing journey under Mayweather’s guidance. “He FaceTimed me at five o’clock in the morning and said ‘Hey, we’ll pack your stuff up and you are coming to Vegas about to workout at Impact. I left in the morning and I was there three or four days. I got to the hotel and I didn’t hear from nobody. I didn’t know when I was working out. I’m like, what am I doing out here.” And he told me that ‘Yo, sorry, I was out of town on business. We’re about to go to Miami, you’re gonna come with me.’ We went to Miami and I found out my workout schedule was on Monday. We’re at Miami on Sunday, I told his assistant to book my flight back to Vegas, so I can make it Monday. It was me, him, Klay Thompson and Wayne. And he’s like ‘Yo, just stay here. We’ll get your work in here’. And I’m like ‘No, I’m out.’ I left and then his right hand man basically said ‘He was testing you to see if you was around for your work, or you was around for the right reasons. And after that he just took me under his wing.” Through networking opportunities, NBA workouts and mentorship, Mayweather helped Crawford in his professional career. He also uncovered the work ethic of Mayweather and Broner. He witnessed firsthand how Mayweather’s efforts extended outside the gym as he balanced personal and professional responsibilities while remaining committed to his career. 


In the world of boxing, Adrien Broner and Floyd Mayweather are iconic figures, both celebrated and also often misunderstood. As someone who knows them both well, Jordon shares some of the misconceptions about them. In discussing Adrien Broner, Jordon delves into a common misconception about the athlete – his reputation for partying. “I think Adrien, he has a misconception about how he parties and gets in trouble and stuff like that, which he does.” Jordon says. “That’s one of his demons that he’s fighting.” Despite his struggles, Jordon praises his tireless work ethic, noting that he has a habit of overworking himself. However, there’s a blind spot – understanding the importance of recovery. He explains, “At the same time, he works hard. Like him to me, he’s overworked like he doesn’t understand the recovery side of it. Shifting the focus to Floyd Mayweather, Jordon mentions that the misconception about him is that people think he is the villain. He says, “He’s generous and cares about the next person’s attitude.” The statement highlights the contrast between Mayweather’s public persona and his personal values.


Jordon’s basketball journey across continents keeps on going. After two seasons with Büyükçekmece in Turkey, Crawford will play for the Tasmania JackJumpers of the Australian League (NBL) this season and will be adding another team to his remarkable overseas career. Let’s see how many times the “clutch shot” announcement echoes in the NBL this season.