BOSTON — IT ALL STARTED IN THE PRE-GAME INTRODUCTION.
Jae Crowder was not amused. When Celtics PA announcer Eddie Palladino grimly mumbled Gordon Hayward’s name, the Bossman was disturbed. He was well aware that a potential Gordon Hayward acquisition could mean at best a slide to the starting four and at worst a new uniform, so Crowder let it be known that he won’t stand for the disrespect.
“I heard the cheering [for Hayward] before the game,” Crowder told reporters. “ I didn’t like that at all. I think that was a sign of disrespect to me from the fans. That sparked a little fire in me.”
The quote was mild and fair. A very lower case answer for a fiery guy. But then the twitter fingers came out [screenshots courtesy CSNNE.com.]
HOME TEAM FANS CHEERING FOR THE OPPOSING PLAYERS NOW.. AW MAN OK... SMH BUT GOOD WIN FELLAS ONTO THE NEXT ONE.!!— JAE CROWDER (@CJC9BOSS) January 4, 2017
Note: Enjoy the epic battle in the replies to the top tweet, where a couple fans set up an epic fight in East Boston.
Coach Brad Stevens expressed surprise in an appearance on 98.5’s Zolak & Bertand Wednesday morning.
“I was surprised, but I think his body of work over the last two years is a better example of his appreciation for where he is,” Stevens said. “I love what he brings to our team and I think that everybody would agree with me on that. I think it’s just an emotional reaction and onward we move.”
Stevens tried to put to rest any concern that Crowder is not happy in Boston, or what may be perhaps an even greater crime against Celtics Nation, not appreciative of being a Celtic.
“I talked to Jae this morning and the first thing he said was he wished he wouldn’t have expressed himself like that,” Stevens said. “We talk all the time about embracing the expectations of being an athlete here in Boston. This city is such a tremendous sports town and offers our guys such an opportunity to grow, and feel those banners above us and the expectations of really being a team-first player and playing as hard as you can. A lot of guys have embraced it, and I’m not sure guys have embraced it as much as Jae over the last two years. I was surprised to see what he tweeted, because every day he comes in you can tell he is thankful to be a Celtic.”
Although Crowder eventually removed the Mavs retweet from his timeline, it’s pretty clear that one of the symptoms of the front office’s quest for a star is being exacerbated here. The constant talk about swinging for the fences makes everyone on the roster all too aware that they are as much trade assets as they are players. It’s a reality everyone in the league is aware of, but it’s even more noticeable in places like Boston, Houston, etc.
The irony is that Crowder had one of his best games in a long time Tuesday night, going perfect from downtown until a late miss en route to 21 points. In addition, Hayward was actually booed at the free throw line during the game, so Crowder’s perception of the adulation for Hayward was cut off after the tip.
While Crowder is without a doubt a beloved member of his team, who is as adored by the fanbase as he is by his coaches and teammates, he’ll likely always have to deal with trade murmurs. Amir Johnson probably doesn’t enjoy the fact that DeMarcus Cousins is a daily subject in Boston. But Crowder has drawn a clear line in the sand, and that line surrounds the gates to the Garden.