“Hayward has broken his leg… Hayward has broken his leg.” – Kevin Harlan moments after Hayward’s gruesome injury.
Before we get to that let’s rewind a bit. Back to July 1st 2017. After his first career all star appearance and leading the Utah Jazz to the second round of the playoffs. Gordon Hayward became the prized jewel of the 2017 NBA Free Agent class. The Summer of Hayward officially began.
In the upcoming days Hayward and his wife Robyn were set to meet with three NBA teams. The Miami Heat, The Boston Celtics and The Utah Jazz. On July 1st, They met with the Miami Heat, on July 2nd, they met with the Boston Celtics, and on July 3rd they met with the Utah Jazz.
From Pat Riley stressing about the Heat winning 3 championships in the last 11 seasons and the benefits to living in Miami. To the connection between Gordon and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens from their days at Butler. To Utah, the city he’s called home for the last 7 years. July 4th would become decision day. All of the basketball world and the fan bases from all three teams spent the 4th waiting for Hayward to make his decison on where he was going to continue his NBA career.
After some controversy occurred when ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that Gordon Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics prematurely. At 7:48 PM EST Gordon Hayward announced via Player’s Tribune, that after 7 season’s with the Utah Jazz, he was joining his old college coach Brad Stevens and becoming a member of The Boston Celtics.
“And of course, there was Coach Stevens: Not just for the relationship that we’ve built off the court — but also for the one that we started building on the court, all of those years ago, in Indiana.
And that unfinished business we had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA … as far as I’m concerned, all of these years later, we still have it:
And that’s to win a championship.” – Gordon Hayward via Player’s Tribune
The connection between Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens goes back to their days at Butler. Even though the two only spent two season’s together a bond was created between Stevens and his star player Gordon Hayward as they would make it to the national championship against the all mighty Duke Blue Devils. Butler ended up losing that game after Hayward just barely missed the buzzer beating basket that would of won Butler a National Championship. That National Championship game ended up being Hayward’s final game at Butler before being drafted 9th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft to the Utah Jazz.
Hayward was the last 1st round pick in the Solan era in Utah as over the next couple of year’s Utah would start to begin a reshape of the franchise by getting rid of star point guard at the time Deron Williams. One season later in the shortened season. Hayward and the Jazz reached the playoffs but lost in the first round to the Spurs. As Utah would experiance a 5 year playoff drought. Til the 2016-2017 season the drought ended as the Utah Jazz returned to the playoffs and Hayward had his breakout season. Making his first career all star appearance and leading the Utah Jazz to a first round series victory over the Los Angeles Clippers before losing in the second round to the eventual NBA Champions Golden State Warriors.
Now after 7 seasons as a member of the Utah Jazz, Gordon is officially a member of the Boston Celtics. The hard work and preparation to make a first impression on his new team began. Training out in San Diego for the offseason. Little did Hayward know that he wasn’t the only big name becoming a Celtic.
August 23rd 2017, The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a trade that shook the NBA to its core. Kyrie Irving was going to be traded to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Jae Crowder, 2018 Nets 1st Round pick, Ante Zizic, and Isaiah Thomas. The trade would later be completed a week later after the Cavaliers held out for a future 2nd Round pick.
The acquisition of Kyrie Irving immediately put the Celtics as favorites in the Eastern Conference and as NBA Championship favorites. As an unlikely Big 3 was formed in Boston between the Celtics last 3 major acquisitions: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. As the rest of the offseason went by training camp and preseason officially became under way. As Gordon Hayward’s first regular season game with his new would begin on October 17th against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers….