By now you’ve read all the headlines of former Laker Javaris Crittenton being sought after by Atlanta PD on a murder rap. You’re also well aware of the ominous precursor to this entire tragedy when he and former Grant High alum Gilbert Arenas brought guns into the locker room in DC.
Lost in all of this is how important Crittenton was in helping the Lakers to keep Kobe Bryant and raise two more banners by acquiring Pau Gasol.
The Atlanta native played on the same high school team as Dwight Howard before becoming a McDonald’s All-American and taking his talents to Georgia Tech. At 6’5” he had good size for a point guard and was blessed with great athletic ability. Javaris spent just one season as a Yellow Jacket. That one year would be all the Lakers needed as they selected him with the 19th pick in the ’07 draft.
Crittenton played sparingly but showed occasional flashes that made you think he could one day be a key contributor in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense.
Then opportunity came knocking for the Lake Show and Crittenton had to go.
Mitch Kupchak had to do something to keep Kobe Bryant happy. The world’s best baller was bitterly unhappy with his supporting cast. With the Memphis Grizzlies looking to move their most valuable asset, Pau Gasol, the Lakers stepped in. Crittenton was shipped off to Memphis along with Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, the rights to Pau’s brother Mac Gasol and two first-round picks in exchange for the Spaniard.
From there Crittenton’s downward NBA spiral began. No doubt the Grizzlies saw potential in Javaris. His upside potential was – a Hubie Brown might say – tremendous. Still there was clearly something amiss. Soon Crittenton was traded to the Wizards where his career really went off track.
After the gun incident with Arenas it was evident that Javaris was going to have to find another path back to respectability. In 2010 he was signed by the Charlotte Bobcats only to be released less than a month later. He would spend the rest of the year playing in China before returning to the States last year where he toiled in the D-League.
His current woes began back in April of this year when Crittenton was said to have been robbed for his jewelry. Flash forward to August and a 22-year old woman is killed in a drive-by shooting in which she was not the intended target. Most speculate that it was part of Crittenton’s plan to exact revenge on those responsible for his loss. Currently Javaris is still at-large.
Basketball is a bitterly difficult sport in which to make a living. No matter what you hear of the average NBA salary during this lockout keep in mind how difficult it is to get to the point where you’re employed long enough to be part of that average salary equation. Then remember the tragic tale of Javaris Crittenton. Once a highly sought hoops commodity, drafted in the first round by one of sport’s most storied franchises, then part of a trade that helped shift the power of the NBA and now on the run from the law.