By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics picked up one of their best wins of the season Tuesday night, dropping 115 points on one of the best defenses in the league in their 115-104 win over the Utah Jazz.
But the buzz after the game wasn’t about the win — it was about Celtics fans.
With free-agent-to-be Gordon Hayward in town, Boston fans gave the Utah forward a rousing applause during pregame introductions. This did not sit well with C’s forward Jae Crowder, who voiced his displeasure after the victory.
“I heard the cheering before the game. I didn’t like that at all,” Crowder told reporters. “I think that was a sign of disrespect to me from the fans. That sparked a little fire in me.”
Crowder then reached out to a wider audience on social media.
Things got a little heated on Twitter when Crowder retweeted someone who suggested he return to Dallas, who dealt him to the Celtics in December 2013 as part of the Rajon Rondo deal. Told to “love it or leave it” in Boston, Crowder hit the caplock button and replied, “I HAVE NO PROBLEM LEAVING IT!”
Crowder quickly became one of Boston’s vocal leaders in the locker room upon his arrival, and in turn, a fan favorite of the Celtics faithful. It’s easy to understand his frustration, as Hayward plays the same position as him. He even outplayed the forward on Tuesday, dropping 21 points on 6-for-8 shooting and finishing a plus-21 for the evening (he leads the C’s at plus-132 for the season). Hayward scored 22 points, but finished a minus-21 for the night.
Crowder is an emotional player, which is a big part of what makes him so good for the Celtics. He’s not afraid to step up and voice his displeasure, as he did last season when Brad Stevens was endlessly tinkering with Boston’s rotation. Tuesday night was not just a player worried about being replaced either, as Crowder was one of the Celtics to attend their summer sales pitch for free agent Kevin Durant. He even showed his fiery side when Durant picked Golden State, letting it be known on multiple occasions that he felt slighted that Durant didn’t pick Boston.
Hayward has been connected to Boston several times in the past, given Stevens was his college coach at Butler, and Crowder has made it clear he isn’t a fan of those rumors. Fans may be a little miffed at Crowder taking aim at their show of affection for a potential free agent target, but it was an emotional player showing his emotions, not trying to talk his way out of town.
Crowder said the crowd’s reaction sparked a little something in him, and he carried that spark onto the floor, leading to a big win for the Celtics. He may have been better served to stay off Twitter when he was so hot, but he’s a guy who speaks from the heart and doesn’t hold back emotions. That’s something Boston fans should appreciate.