After his trade from the Boston Celtics to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team trade that also included the Miami Heat, Jordan Crawford is one step closer to his metamorphosis into the modern incarnation of the Roman god, Janus.*
*For whom the month of January is named. Hooray timeliness!
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (about the trade, not about classical mythology):
As part of a three-team deal, the Boston Celtics have traded guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Warriors will send guard Toney Douglas to the Miami Heat, and Miami sends center Joel Anthony and a future first-round pick and second-round pick to the Celtics, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Miami will send a first-round pick it owns from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Celtics, but that pick becomes two second-round picks should the Sixers miss the playoffs in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The Heat will save $11.5 million in salary and luxury tax with the unloading of Anthony’s contract. Anthony has appeared in just 12 games for Miami this season, averaging a little more three minutes.
Janus was kind of a peculiar member of the Roman collection of deities. While a lot of Roman gods had Greek counterparts, Janus was a uniquely Roman immortal. Only the specific context of Rome’s Etruscan origins and evolution as a culture could give rise to Janus. He got to do a lot of stuff, because his title was fairly broad. He was the god of beginnings and transitions, which seems like a fairly straightforward task, until you stop to consider all of the things that would fall into one of those categories: birth on the one hand, for instance, and trading and shipping on the other.* And since you can’t really have something happen without it starting, Janus got to basically be a part of everything that happened. Having a ceremony dedicated to someone else? Gotta invoke Janus to start it off. But wait, there’s more! On top of jurisdiction over essentially whatever he wanted to claim as his territory, Janus had two faces, which is traditionally ascribed to his view of the future and the past, because apparently time travel falls under the auspices of “transitions.”
*Not really ideal birthing circumstances. Or shipping circumstances, I guess, if we’re being fair.
Given all the change in Boston over the offseason, the team might as well have been engaged in time-based distortion. And though he joined the Celtics last year after Leandro Barbosa was injured, the arrival of Brad Stevens and the changeover from the Doc Rivers regime signaled the true start of Jordan Crawford’s tenure in Boston. In turn, the 2013-14 season has been a continuous appeal to beginnings and transitions. The personnel on hand and the offensive system in place called for him to have the ball in his hands to his heart’s content, with an expectation: Crawford would be the fulcrum of the Celtics offense, but he would in turn be entrusted with running the offense as designed by the coaching staff. To the credit of both Crawford and Stevens, planning and practice begat execution and new career-bests for the fourth-year guard. Listed as a shooting guard on his Basketball-Reference page, Crawford’s performance this year — relative to the baseline he’d established in his previous three seasons — points more toward the profile of a point guard. He’s scoring less on a per-minute basis this year than his career average, but he’s dishing out 2 more assists per 36 minutes (6.7 this year) than in any other season. He’s assisted on an estimated 31% of his team’s field goals when he’s on the court; the list of players with an assist percentage over 30 in 1,000 minutes or more this year includes point guards, Jordan Crawford, and LeBron James. If nothing else, Crawford’s play over the first 39 games of the Stevens tenure in Boston has been a testament to the fluidity of position in relation to skills.
Now, however, Crawford has the opportunity to ply his trade for a contender — another transition, another beginning. Yet the situation is entirely different. Crawford started 35 games for the Celtics; if he starts a single game for the Warriors, here’s hoping it’s because someone’s resting, because the alternative is a much grimmer scenario, indeed. Instead, he’ll come off the bench for Golden State, whose reserve units could use a boost on offense. Crawford can provide that, undoubtedly, but he’ll likely be asked to provide different parts of his game on different nights. He’s proven the ability to be a fairly adept ball handler and distributor, and that level of skill could make a substantial difference against opposing bench units. He may even see some run with two or three of the starters during spans where Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala are resting. There are going to be times, however, that Crawford’s also going to go into “Who else is gonna shoot?” mode, especially given the struggles of the Warriors bench to get the ball anywhere close to the basket. Counting on him to find the balance between the two is one route, but consider the alternative: depending on the opponent, the rest situation, and other pertinent factors, Mark Jackson and the Golden State coaching staff make a gut-check decision. They can have distributor Crawford, or they can have chucker Crawford. Whichever choice they make, they let Crawford and his teammates know what they expect of him that night, and they urge him to go full bore. Instead of diluting both of his personas, embrace the dichotomy. Let Jordan Crawford be the bench god of flipping the switch on his abilities, from one mindset to the other with as little in-between as possible. Let him be Janus.
One of the most acclaimed structures in Rome was dedicated to Janus, in some manner of speaking. Janus — because, again, he’s magic, just like Jordan Crawford — was the god of boundaries, and boundaries are only good for one thing: knowing who your enemy is and which land they have the audacity to claim as theirs. As a result, the Temple of Janus became something of a real-time war monument/really big building that was also a clock. The temple had a state of Two-Face inside, and doors at either end called the Gates of Janus*; either Romans weren’t very clever, or there’s something lost in translation.
*Oh, and of course they were the Gates of Janus. Janus was the god of gates and doors, since those are technically transitions, too. And if he wanted to give you a deity double-stamp, Janus could probably claim that the gate or door was the “beginning” of whatever was on the other side, so he was the god of swinging barriers twice over.
Regardless, the Gates of Janus were open or closed depending on the state of war in Rome. Closing the massive doors was an arduous task, much like the cessation of taking up arms, and shutting them signaled that all of Rome’s open campaigns were over. As the various incarnations of the Roman state were perpetually engaged militarily, the gates almost always remained open, which signified conflict. Perhaps one was a more promising sign than the other; history counts on two hands the number of documented instances of the closing of the doors to the temple, and each was a heralded event by whichever leader managed the task. But war was the epoch; the opened Gates of Janus, eternal a presence as they may have seemed, were born of the times. Context dictated what declaration the doors would make — openly, to all who needed to know.
At war or at peace, aggressor or distributor, Jordan Crawford will be his best for the Warriors if they follow his spirit animal-who’s-actually-a-Roman-god’s lead.
Statistical support courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com