WALTHAM, Mass. — Celtics forward Jae Crowder apologized Thursday for his Twitter rant after Boston fans cheered Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward during lineup introductions, but Crowder also reaffirmed his disdain for home crowds cheering opposing players.
“I was really angry after the game, obviously,” Crowder said before practice Thursday. “I said what I had to say after the game. I probably should have left it right there. I went on Twitter and said what I had to say, and there’s nothing that I regret going back and forth with fans on Twitter — that’s how I was feeling at the time.
“Obviously, I don’t want to leave Boston. Obviously, I love it here. Obviously, the fans have treated me great. No doubt about that.
“I still stand behind what I said about how I felt disrespected when they’re cheering for Gordon Hayward. I live with that. I stand behind that 100 percent as a man, as a basketball player who puts my time away from my family into it.”
“Obviously, I don’t want to leave Boston. Obviously, I love it here. Obviously, the fans have treated me great. No doubt about that. I still stand behind what I said about how I felt disrespected when they’re cheering for Gordon Hayward. I live with that. I stand behind that 100 percent as a man, as a basketball player who puts my time away from my family into it.”
Crowder said after Tuesday’s game that he felt disrespected by fans cheering for Hayward, a potential free agent this summer who played for Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler. Crowder then ventured onto Twitter;confronted by fans who said he could simply leave if he didn’t feel wanted, Crowder suggested he would have no problem doing so.
Crowder said he was advised by Celtics brass to remove his interactions with fans, but he didn’t back down when asked about his frustrations with fans cheering opposing players, including when Boston fans started a “Come to Boston” chant for Kevin Durant last season.
“I didn’t like that, either,” Crowder said of the Durant chant. “I just remember when I got here a couple years ago and we were however many games under .500, the fans cheered for us. Not one time did they cheer for another player when they came into town. Things have changed since then, I’m aware of that. That’s never happened in an arena that I’ve been in. I’ve never been on the road and got cheered for, or even one of my teammates get cheered for by the opposing team.
“It’s just something different for me that really set me off. I don’t like when they cheer for DeMarcus Cousins, I don’t like when they cheer for Kevin Durant. I don’t think you should do that. That’s all I was saying.”
Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge both talked with Crowder on Wednesday. Both the coach and GM downplayed the uproar over Crowder’s tweets during their weekly appearance on Boston sports radio. Stevens admitted he was surprised by Crowder’s comments but reaffirmed Thursday that Crowder’s history suggests someone who is very much committed to the Celtics.
“We talked about the reaction itself real briefly over the phone. And then he came in and shot later [Wednesday],” said Stevens. “My focus with him is on, he’s been great and he’s embraced everything that we talk about how important it is to play the right way here in Boston, to be a good teammate, to play with maximum effort. And he’s embraced what I think Celtics fans appreciate. He’s been a good example of that. And, as we said, he reacted the way he reacted, but we’ll move forward.”
Ainge joked on Boston sports radio WBZ-FM 98.5 the Sports Hub Thursday morning that fans should cheer for opposing players more often if it inspires some of Crowder’s best basketball. But he likewise downplayed the national uproar.
“If I can get the crowd to cheer the [opposing] starting small forward on every game, Jae will play his best. I like that. Whatever it takes Jae to get himself motivated to play, I’m OK with,” Ainge joked to the “Toucher and Rich” program. Turning more serious, he added, “I agree with what [Stevens] said, I’m not worried about Jae Crowder. He’s a true pro, he loves being Celtic, he’s grateful for being here, he loves his teammates, his teammates love him. I don’t really play much into it because it’s Jae and what he does day-in and day-out is much more than a tantrum on Twitter.”
Crowder said he appreciated how many fans stood behind him via social media on Wednesday. He also thanked his teammates for rallying behind him and said he joined some of them to watch “Deepwater Horizon.”
Crowder was asked if he wanted to relay a message to Boston fans and replied, “I really appreciate everything y’all have done for me. You have to understand that was a little heat of the moment with those Tweets. I really apologize for them. But I really do hope you guys understand where I’m coming from with the whole cheering for the opposing team.”