Brothers Jordan, left, and Joe Crawford, who went to Renaissance High, want to help Metro Detroit kids. (Ricardo Thomas/Detroit News)
The first time the Crawford brothers saw an NBA player in person was during a camp in Detroit. It was former Pistons forward Grant Hill.
The boys were mesmerized. They knew they wanted to follow in his footsteps.
It’s been a long time since those days, but both have achieved their dream — Jordan with the Celtics and Joe in Israel.
Now, they want to make sure other dreams in Detroit can be realized.
That’s why they’re thrilled to provide an opportunity — the International Hoops Expo that runs Thursday-Saturday at Renaissance High and the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse (internationalhoopsexpo.com).
The plan is for the brothers, as well as some NBA players, to pass along their experiences on and off the court to the Metro Detroit kids.
The expo concludes with a game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Renaissance featuring a number of pro players, including John Wall, Jamal Crawford, Keith Benson, Paul George and Manny Harris.
“I think for the NBA players to accept and come to Detroit is great,” Jordan Crawford said. “I don’t remember NBA players being in the city since Grant Hill.
“We finally got the opportunity to do it and we wanted to jump on this. We want (kids) to achieve their dreams and goals on the court and then give them the off the court advice for any bumps in the road that might come along.”
While the Crawfords hope to pass along their experiences to the kids, they also want to show them there’s more to life than basketball
Learning how to market
Jordan has played for three teams during a four-year span, and averaged 9.1 points and 2.5 assists with the Celtics last season.
Joe was drafted by the Lakers and played briefly with the New York Knicks. He sat out last season with Maccabi Rishon LeZion of the Israeli League because of a knee injury.
But the brothers also took to heart what Michael Jordan accomplished, and learned that to be a success, you have to learn how to market.
And that’s what they’ve done.
Especially Joe, who did a lot of the marketing and behind the scenes work for the expo.
“I can’t say they did not admire Michael Jordan’s ability to the utmost, but there were different things he presented that they admired,” said the brothers’ mother, Sylvia. “It was the commercials and the enterprise stuff. They were really attached to that.
“They were intrigued by the bigger things.”
The bigger thing include Detroit, too.
For Joe Crawford, it’s about the kids.
“To be able to get these NBA players here and for the kids to see them, that is a positive,” Joe said. “A lot of times they see drug dealers and say, ‘That is what I want to be.’
“When I saw Grant Hill, I said I really want to be a basketball player and I saw that it was possible.”
And for Jordan, the expo is a chance to reconnect with a city he misses.
“Detroit is my foundation,” he said. “Me, having a chance to go all over the world to play basketball and learn skills quicker than the average person makes me want to bring that knowledge back to Detroit and let them see the things they don’t get to see. I want them to experience it, too.”