BOSTON (CBS) — Jae Crowder will return to Boston in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform for the first time on Wednesday, and he’s hoping that Celtics fans remember what he did during his time in green when he’s introduced at TD Garden.
Crowder’s play on the court while with the Celtics certainly warrants a pleasant “welcome back” applause when he is introduced, even if he is now with Boston’s biggest foe. It’s a courtesy Celtics fans extend to just about every returning player, though Isaiah Thomas will probably get most of the adulation even though he isn’t playing.
But some Celtics fans will remember a little dig Crowder threw their way last season when it comes time to reintroducing themselves to the player. It was roughly a year ago that Crowder voiced his displeasure over Celtics fans cheering for then Jazz forward and free-agent-to-be Gordon Hayward during pregame warmups. It’s still on his mind, as he referenced that fan reaction when asked about the reception he thinks he’ll receive in his return to Boston.
“[Celtics] fans have cheered for opposing team’s players before. I feel like they should do the same for me because I gave them a lot,” Crowder told reporters, courtesy of the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “I hope they give me a little cheer.”
Fans cheered for Hayward last January in hopes of luring him to Boston in the offseason (which Danny Ainge was able to pull off with a max contract), and given Hayward and Crowder play similar roles on the floor, you can understand why Crowder was a little miffed. He was never one to mince words, either on or off the court, one of the many aspects of the player that endeared him to Celtics fans for two-plus seasons. Mix in his hard-nosed play and team-first attitude, and it’s easy to understand why Crowder became a fan favorite shortly after arriving in Boston as part of the December 2014 trade that sent Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks. Crowder fit in almost immediately in Brad Stevens’ system and never backed down from a difficult defensive assignment. He signed a team-friendly extension in the summer of 2015, giving Boston the flexibility they needed to continue their franchise turnaround.
He is no longer part of the future, sent to Cleveland with Thomas as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston, but his supporting role in turning the franchise from a lottery team to a playoff contender should earn him a warm reception when he returns on Wednesday.
If not, Crowder probably have plenty to say about it after the Celtics and Cavaliers are done battling on the floor.