Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder is still dancing on the grave of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Crowder was ejected in the final moments of the Suns’ first-round victory against the Lakers for mocking the defending champs — in particular LeBron James — with a salsa dance. Crowder was asked about the moment prior to Game 4 of the NBA Finals by James’ former teammate turned ESPN analyst, Richard Jefferson.
“I don’t know if y’all remember Game 3. They did a lot on the sideline during Game 3 and that ruffled a lot of feathers on our side. That gave us an extra spark and some motivation. That’s all it was,” Crowder said on The Jump. “Those last 30 seconds when those guys were done, we were chasing that feeling. Once we got it, you saw the rest of it — the salsa dancing and the trash talking. But we waited until the last 30 seconds of defeat to let our trash-talking do the talking. That’s what you saw.”
Crowder is referring to the sideline antics that were led by Lakers center Andre Drummond when James was backing him down for a bucket. At that point, it looked like the Lakers would take control of the series, going up 2-1 with a 14-point victory.
Crowder Hoped to Frustrate LeBron James
It’s not the first time Crowder has talked about the moment, also discussing it on Jalen & Jacoby shortly after the series ended.
“They tried to clown us during Game 3. I don’t know if ya’ll saw that. I told myself once we get this thing done, I got a few moves in my bag for them. That’s what I was thinking. I couldn’t dance Game 3, I had to wait till Game 6 when we got the job done a little bit.”
However, Crowder was very complimentary of James when talking about taking on the assignment of guarding him.
“I’m up for the challenge,” Crowder said. “I don’t know what else to say. I want to guard the best player and give my team a chance to win. I do a good job of making it tough. I don’t stop anybody. It’s tough to stop guys in this league with the way we score. You want to make it as tough as possible on guys and be an A-hole sometimes. I’m able to do that here and there.
“Obviously, LeBron is a great player — he’s the greatest player in our league right now. I wanted to get him frustrated a little bit and hopefully things would go our way. I think that’s what happened.”
Despite a bum ankle that wasn’t 100%, James averaged 23.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the series against the Suns.
Suns in a Battle With Bucks in NBA Finals
The Lakers are firmly in the Suns’ rearview mirror and the team now has to focus on getting back on track against the Bucks with the NBA Finals knotted up at 2-2. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to score 66 points in Game 4 to even the series.
“At this point, both teams know each other. You know the sets. They can call out our plays, we can call out their play. It’s about execution,” Suns veteran guard Chris Paul told reporters. “So down the stretch, we got to box out, I got to box out, we got to execute. We’re a team that’s closed out games like that all season long. So this is a tough one but we got to bounce back. That’s why we fought all season to get home court.”
The crucial Game 5 of the Finals is scheduled for Saturday back in Phoenix.