Miami Heat’s decision to let forward Jae Crowder walk last season was a mistake. The Heat struggled hard without being able to find a sufficient replacement for Crowder, and Miami’s shakey season followed by a first-round sweep proved as much.
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Crowder, who played a crucial role in helping the Heat make it to the NBA Finals in the bubble, wanted a multi-year contract with Miami, but the franchise only offered the 30-year-old forward a one-season guarantee. Crowder went on to sign a three-year $29 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, who are now the Western Conference Champions preparing to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals.
The 6-foot-6 forward is the only player on both the Suns and the Bucks to ever play in a Finals game. Reminiscing on last year’s Finals appearance with the Heat, Crowder says it doesn’t mean much to him because they didn’t win.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity, but I’m looking for a different outcome than I had last time honestly,” Crowder said, as tweeted by Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “That’s all fine that I’ve been here before, but I haven’t won anything. So, it really doesn’t mean anything to me personally.”
“I use my last stint as motivation to get back here to have a chance to play for it all again, to work my way to be in this position. Hopefully, it’s a different result, and that’s my motivation in it all… I want to get the job done this time.”
Crowder Has Been the X-Factor for the Suns in the Postseason
While Crowder says he doesn’t get any points for going to the Finals and not winning last year, he’s incredibly confident the Suns will get the title this year.
“I was here last year and my mind is already thinking about four more,” Crowder said after winning the Western Conference Finals. “I know it’s hard to get back to the Finals and be the last two teams standing. I’m going to embrace this and then tomorrow I’m going to switch my mindset to four more.”
Much to Miami’s chagrin, Crowder didn’t just attach himself to a better team this season, he’s having one of the best campaigns of his career. During the postseason, he’s drilling 65.4% of his shots and shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc.
Crowder is clearly the X-factor of the Suns. Phoenix is 8-1 when Crowder makes more than three 3-pointers. In their final conference finals game against the Los Angeles Clippers, he scored 19 points, shooting 6-of-11 and 5-of-9 for threes.
While back-to-back Finals appearances are exhausting for the mind and body, Crowder remains hyped. “I’m chasing it. That’s my motivation. That’s what I’ve been preaching to the guys,” Crowder said. “I’m chasing that feeling again. I’m chasing the moment.”
Crowder Said He Looks Like ‘A Genius’ for Leaving Miami for Phoenix
Last month, Crowder discussed how people thought he was nuts to leave the Miami Heat and join the Phoenix Suns.
“I look like a genius, huh?” Crowder said, as reported by the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “I know I look like a genius a little bit with my decision.”
“And when I made the decision, you should have saw how many text messages I got, like, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘Why you going to Phoenix, they haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years?”
When Miami limited their offer to Crowder, they were conserving money in hopes of signing Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ended up re-upping his deal to stay in Milwaukee.