When you face an opponent multiple times in a row, things are bound to get heated.
That happened in the first-round series between the No. 1 Phoenix Suns and No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
Both teams have gritty, defensive-minded players battling it out, but Suns forward Jae Crowder has developed a reputation of getting into the heads of players and fans during his 10-year career.
Crowder did just that during Game 4 in New Orleans, when Pelicans fans started to chant “F*** Jae Crowder” in a 118-103 win inside Smoothie King Center.
After Phoenix took Game 5, some Pelicans fans took that chant a bit further in Game 6, wearing red shirts that had the phrase printed on them:
Devin Booker is an old soul and probably the guy who drives to the local gas station to pick up the Saturday paper.
He would do that to clip out the story about how badly his team played. He finds and thrives off of motivation.
We can make that assumption because Booker, before making his return from a hamstring injury on Thursday in Game 6 of the first-round series, went out of his way to acquire some physical bulletin board material.
Facing elimination with a loss, the Pelicans could not keep up with Chris Paul’s historic shooting performance as Crowder and the Suns advanced to the second round.
During Crowder’s postgame press conference, both he and Devin Booker pulled up in the shirt and got the last laugh:
A couple of New Orleans Pelicans fans showed up to the game with red shirts that simply read “(Expletive) Jae Crowder,” as the Suns forward has made himself a villain in this series. Fans had chanted the four-letter word along with Crowder’s name earlier in the series.
Booker and assistant coach Jarrett Jack appeared to find those shirts amusing enough to where Jack tracked down some extras and handed them to Booker before the game.
“It’s really a beautiful thing,” Booker said wearing his new t-shirt after a 115-109 win. “It’s respect at its highest level. I don’t know. … Good for Jae. People that didn’t know his name before they went to the game know it now.”
Look at Booker’s glee as he heads back to the locker room with his new shirt. He probably was excited to show his teammates.
Crowder and the Suns responded to such motivational materials.
Crowder went 2-for-22 from three-point range in the first five games of the series but hit his first three on Thursday to lead off Phoenix’s Game 6 scoring. He ended Game 6 with nine points, four rebounds and three assists as the Suns advanced to the next round of the playoffs with a 115-109 victory.