Jamal Crawford worked on his game this summer ... for the first time?

Jamal Crawford may have gotten better at age 32. (Getty Images)

When people complain about million-dollar athletes getting to play a game for a living, I usually try to explain to them that basketball is a game but the NBA is a job.

The amount of sacrifice and dedication it takes from a very young age to perfect your game, make it through high school and college, and then battle it out with the best players in the world to try to carve out a career is pretty staggering.

When you see a player who struggles with his shot or struggles shooting free throws, it’s not due to a lack of work or preparation. These guys work on their games like crazy. Sometimes, it’s simply a string of bad occurrences or a mental block that keeps them from improving certain aspects of their games.

"I've never actually been drilled before. Seriously. I told Blake that, and he couldn't believe it," Crawford said of teammate Blake Griffin.

Well, there goes that theory. That was from Clippers guard Jamal Crawford in an article by Helene Elliott in the Los Angeles Times.

OK, that can’t really be the way Crawford has trained throughout his career, right? He’s been in the league for 12 seasons! Twelve! And he’s never worked on his game during the offseason before this past summer?

"This summer was actually the first summer I worked on my game. I usually just play off of raw talent," he said Thursday after the Clippers' practice. "But I just wanted to work on something and be in great shape coming into camp. I came here right after Labor Day, which is the earliest I've ever gone to any team in the summer, and all the guys were here, committed to getting better.

"Now it's part of my lifestyle, working out and being here, shooting and getting shots up. It gives you more confidence that if you miss one or two, you know you've been working on it every single day and your teammates have confidence because they see it as well."

Wow, this floors me.

It actually kind of makes me angry and Crawford has always been one of the guys I’ve enjoyed watching more than most players in the league. I can’t believe he got by on raw talent. Maybe this is some hyperbole by him but what if he’s actually just been playing off of raw talent and not working on his game?

How good could he have been? How good will he be this season?

Three seasons ago, he was the best sixth man in the NBA by averaging 18 points per game off the bench. He gave the Atlanta Hawks a big scoring boost. If he’s been working on his game for the first time in his career, can he regain that form and bring it to the Clippers?

If he can, the Clippers could be even more fun and highlight-filled. I will now end this with the obligatory “Shake and Bake” video.

CBS Sports Writer

Zach Harper likes basketball. Some would even say he loves it. He's also an enthusiast for everything Ricky Davis, Rasheed Wallace, Nic Cage, and has seen the movie Gigli almost three times. He's been... Full Bio

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