The man known as “The Alabama Slammer”, Crawford forged an outstanding career in the NBL over 18 years, regarded by many as one of the greatest big men to play in this country.
From the moment he stepped on to an NBL court back in 1982 for the Geelong Supercats – posting 27 points and 17 rebounds on debut – Crawford would wow crowds with his amazing athleticism and spectacular dunking.
Crawford won three NBL Championships with the Perth Wildcats – a team which his name would become synonymous with – earning All-NBL First Team honours four times on his way to being recognised in the NBL 20th and 25th Anniversary Teams and the Perth Wildcats 30th Anniversary Team.
In a career compiled of 504 games, Crawford retired in 1999 as one of the most accomplished players in NBL history, sitting in the top five all-time for points (2nd), rebounds (3rd) and blocks (2nd).
Humbled by the honour, the Alabama native said to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the game’s greats is something he will cherish.
“Some of the best people and most competitive athletes I have seen happen to be in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame,” Crawford said.
“I’m blessed to be a part of group and be a part of helping to grow the love of basketball in Australia to where it is today.”
After successful stints with the Geelong Supercats (three All-NBL First Team honours) and the Canberra Cannons, it was in Perth where the legend of Crawford would make him arguably the biggest star in Western Australia.
Crawford said the Wildcats nation welcomed him with open arms and he was grateful for the support he received now, 15 years since he last played for the team
“Perth holds a very special place in my heart. I’ll never forget how accepted I was by the fans of Western Australia,” Crawford said.
“When I was back in Perth for the Wildcats 30th anniversary, the love we received from the fans, even now, was on another level.
“The love the Western Australian people have for basketball and the way they support the team, you can’t help but play your heart out and give 100 per cent every time you step on the court.”
One man who witnessed Crawford at his best was long-time Perth Wildcats teammate and NBL great Ricky Grace.
Grace and Crawford were the foundations of the Wildcats team that won three NBL Championships between 1990 and 1995, playing the best part of a decade together.
In awe of the achievements of his fellow American import, Grace said Crawford was one of the most gifted players he had played alongside.
“It was a great honour to play alongside James. He was probably the athletic player I’ve played with here in Australia,” Grace said.
“He was unstoppable on the low block and a real entertainer on the court as well, with his amazing slam dunks and amazing shot blocking.
“At the Wildcats we formed a brotherhood, between Crawford, (Andrew) Vlahov, (Scott) Fisher and myself. That played a big part in our success and was an enjoyable thing to be a part of.”
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally congratulated Crawford on his induction into the 2013 class of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Few people have made an impact on the NBL like James Crawford did in his 18-year playing career,” Ms Keneally said.
“Not only will he be remembered for his amazing feats on the court, but also by the work he did at schools around Western Australia to spread the word of basketball as head of the Wildcats junior development program.
“James is more than worthy of his place in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, and we look forward to celebrating his prestigious honour in November.”
Background Information – James Crawford
• Played 504 NBL games between 1982-1999 and 2003 with the Geelong Supercats, Canberra Cannons and Perth Wildcats
• 11,121 career points – 3rd all-time in NBL history
• Averaged 22 points per game – 2nd all-time in NBL history
• 4,794 career rebounds – 3rd all-time in NBL history
• 788 career blocks – 2nd all-time in NBL history
• 3-time NBL Championship winner, all with the Perth Wildcats (1990, 1991 & 1995)
• 4-time All-NBL First Team (1982-84, 1987)
• Named in the NBL 20th Anniversary Team (1998)
• Named in the NBL 25th Anniversary Team (2003)
• Named in the Perth Wildcats 30th Anniversary Team (2012)