If you ain’t an NBA-addict, you’ve probably never heard of John Crotty.
Crotty is a guy who played 11 years in NBA from 1992 to 2003 on several teams, including Utah, Cleveland, Miami, Portland, Seattle, Detroit, Denver. Overall he played in 477 games, which makes him a true veteran of the NBA. Most often, he was always asked to perform some small tasks on the court. Dirty work, mostly.
Like I said, he retired after the 2002/03 season, after a last insipid stint with the Denver Nuggets (only 12 games for his last season, maybe he was plagued with injuries… or maybe he collected a great deal of “Did Not Play-Coach decision…nah just teasing, John!, even if John actually did collect a bunch of “DNP” throughout his career, and was often a benchwarmer…).
Despite playing 11 years in the L, he ain’t the type of guy that fans will remember for decades. Truthfully, I guess it didn’t take long for people to forget him, except maybe his former teammates and managers!
The regular NBA fan certainly wasn’t emotionally affected (neither was I!) when John decided it was time to leave the NBA in 2003, after all John registered some very low numbers during his career : 4.0 ppg; 2.1 apg, 1.1 rpg, and averaged about 12 minutes per game. You’ll agree with me when I say that John Crotty didn’t revolutionize the game, to say the least.
It may sounds unfair, but that was Crotty’s fate : a guy who, no matter where he plays, no matter what he achieves, nobody would ever remember him. Even if he played well in a game, Crotty would always be the unsung hero.
Don’t get me wrong : I don’t poke fun at John Crotty. Actually, I kind of respect this guy (if I wasn’t, I certainly wouldn’t waste my time writing this post!).
In fact, I respect him a lot more than some NBA superstars, who are highly skilled, but who acts like some spoiled child and got a me-first attitude. (Yo, Marbury ! How ya doin’ ?!)
If you take some time to look closer at Crotty’s career, you’ll be stunned to notice how this guy built an interesting career, in spite of low chances at the start. Odds were truly against it, ‘cause he lacked athletic qualities, which is a fundamental knack to make it in the NBA.
But John had some qualities to show : humanly he was a hard-working guy, was very respectful of his coaches, didn’t cause any turmoil in his different teams. Not the type of guy who would be sulking on the bench if his playing time is low. And on the court, it may sounds hard to believe for some people, but John had some skills as well : he was able to hit some three’s (38.4% throughout his carrer, a very good percentage), and pretty accurate on the free-throw line (83.7 %).
I guess it saved his whole career in the League, ‘cause with a player like Crotty, coaches were well aware they had a player who wouldn’t spend his time bitchin’ about his reduced role… and that he could pull off whatever he was asked to do: most often, he was asked to be a decent back-up, let the starting point-guard catch his breath on the bench, score 3/4 pts, and hand out 2/3 assists in about 10 minutes on the court. It sums up his whole career.
And John Crotty could do that better than anyone, without complaining. He quickly get used to his role, and he was soon pigeonholed around the league as a perfect back up for any teams who already got an All-Star point guard on its roster. He became sorta a poster boy for the back up point guard position!
Besides, here are some of the great PG’s John played with : John Stockton (all-time leading-passer in the L), Mark Price, Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton… Yeah, only some big shots!
Becoming a NBA player wasn’t an easy task for Crotty : actually, he struggled to make it.
He played college ball at Virginia for 4 years till 1991. He left Virginia with some solid stats, even if his stats were far from being mind-boggling : 12.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.5 rpg, and 1 steal per game.
Crotty was a team captain as a junior and a senior. He played in 129 games (32 minutes per game) at Virginia and started the last 104 games of his collegiate career.
At Virginia, Crotty will ever be remembered as the one who holds Virginia’s records for career assists with 683 and assists in a season with 214 (1989-90).
Among others distinctions, Crotty was a third-team All-ACC selection in 1990 and 1991. He was a first-team All-ACC Tournament choice in 1991 and a second-team All-ACC Tournament selection in 1990. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors from The Associated Press and The Sporting News in 1990.
Despite all his accomplishments, Crotty was undrafted after his 4 years at Virginia.
I guess his lack of adress (41.5 FG%, and only 69.4% FT) and his lack of athleticism was a concern for several NBA scouts before the draft. For them, he was way too slow to make it in NBA.
Crotty struggled to achieve his goal. He had to prove his worth during the ruthless summer leagues. He was pit against others unemployed players (and most often more skilled as him!), whose only goal was to get a spot in NBA. He failed in 1991, and has no choice but to play in the Global Basketball Association in 1991-92. It was a minor league, and it was hard to make a living in this league.
But Crotty was a strong-minded guy, and he kept saying to himself there was no way in hell he wouldn’t get a gig in NBA. He knew he was able to bring something to an NBA team, he felt ready for it, and now was the time to show it.
So he attended the Utah Jazz’s summer league. At the time (1992), Utah happened to be looking for a back-up point guard, to play behind Stockton.
Needless to say that the Stockton’s back-up wouldn’t get a lotta minutes, but Crotty didn’t care, he was well aware he’d never be a starting PG, yet he decided to give it his best shot, and to just play his game like he ever did. To do what he can do, and not try to play like a superstar he’ll never be. And it worked ! The Jazz were convinced by his abilities, especially his passing skills, Crotty appeared as a pass-first, shoot-second type of PG, and it turned out that was exactly what the Jazz were looking for!
His accomplishments during the Summer League, combined with his good season in the GBA convinced the Utah Jazz to sign him. He was indeed signed as a free agent by this organization on 9/4/92.
It was not a lucrative contract, though (about $140.000 for his first year as a rookie), but John Crotty didn’t care, he was just in hog heaven : his dream to play in NBA finally came true, he pulled that off!
He was definitely on cloud nine, on top of the world!
But getting a spot in the NBA was only the 1st step : the ultimate goal was to make a long career in this league, that’s why the young Crotty decided to work at double speed, and to learn a lot behind a tremendous PG like John Stockton.
He spent 3 whole seasons with the Jazz, with a reduced playing time.
Somehow, those 3 years kind of shaped his career. He would now be considered as an eternal back-up, who was just there to run a team for a few minutes on the court. Or worse, to remain on the bench, if his coach would deem unnecessary to make him play.
Crotty would never bitch about it, ‘cause he knew the only way for him to remain in the L was to keep a positive attitude, and to carry out whatever his coaches would ask him to do. Most often, it was to do the dirty work, and/or to play in the garbage time.
His next teams would use him the same way the Jazz did : as a mere role-player.
His stats and his status were ludicrous, and John Crotty was used to see the disrepect in the eyes of his opponents, of the fans around the league, and sometimes of his own fans, like in Utah. John had no choice but to cope with that.
However, every now and then, Crotty posted some shining stats. For instance on 2 different occasions, he poured 19 pts in a game! The first time was on 2/29/96 with Cleveland against the Milwaukee Bucks, and second time was in a 101-84 win over the Houston Rockets on 4/4/99. Needless to say 19 pts was his career-high.
When he got traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in ‘97, Crotty made an awesome debut against the Seatlle Sonics : 17 pts and 8 assists. Or again 18 pts and 5 assists with Miami against the Phoenix Suns on 1/27/97!
And… well that’s it. Those games are the highlights of his career. Yeah, somehow the journeyman point guard John Crotty overachieved, ‘cause nobody expected him to stick around for 11 years in NBA. In fact, his game wasn’t meant to play in NBA. Anyway, John did it, and I truly admire this type of players.