BOSTON (CBS) — While Kyrie Irving heading to Boston and Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury have made up most of the headlines surrounding the Celtics-Cavaliers blockbuster trade, Jae Crowder has been a bit of an afterthought.
The three-and-D forward quickly became a fan favorite in Boston upon his arrival from Dallas in the Rajon Rondo trade back in 2014, and he was a big part of the team’s success over the last two seasons. But his role on the Celtics was up in the air after the team signed Gordon Hayward to a max contract in July, and that was just the tip of the iceberg in a whirlwind offseason for the forward.
Crowder opened up about being traded from the Celtics at his introductory press conference in Cleveland on Thursday, sharing an incredibly tough story. The 27-year-old was at the hospital with his mother, Helen, when he was notified of the trade with Cleveland. He shared the news with her and just minutes later, she lost her battle with cancer at the age of 51.
“There was a lot going on that day, obviously,” a soft-spoken Crowder said on Thursday. “The good thing about the whole ordeal was I was able to whisper it to my mom before she passed. I was with her. I just told her, ‘We’re going to Cleveland.’ Five minutes later, she passed. That day was tough, but it was a good day for myself, for my basketball career, to move on to an organization like this, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, to put myself in a position to play for it all. I couldn’t ask myself for nothing else.
“I was thankful for Boston, for everything they’ve done for me, and for trading me to a team like this. I was thankful for the opportunity. But that day was pretty wild,” he concluded.
Crowder admitted that he was “a little concerned” with Boston’s direction after signing Hayward, in addition to drafting forward Jayson Tatum with the third-overall pick. He asked the team what direction they were heading in after those moves, and said he got his answer.
“I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it and just wanted more direction. I think they gave it to me with the trade,” he said Thursday. “They showed me what they wanted to do. I respected it.”