Storyline: Gordon Hayward Injury

179 rumors in this storyline

More than 50 days have passed since Hayward suffered his grisly injury, and on this night there are few obvious signs that it happened at all. His cast was replaced by a walking boot after two weeks, and now the walking boot is gradually being phased out in favor of a small, nonintrusive brace, which he is wearing now. Last week, he was told he did not need crutches anymore. On the court, he can now stand still and shoot baskets, a major step after weeks of firing them from a padded chair. As the Celtics stormed to a 22-5 start, it became tantalizing to wonder what they might be with Hayward. And given his consistent progress, and the fact that more than four months remain in the regular season, it is impossible not to wonder if there is a chance, however slim it might be, that he could be back this year.

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Hayward admits that he thinks about it, too. But he immediately cautions that there can be dangers in looking far ahead. He has made this progress by tackling obstacles one by one, and he knows the last, most massive one remains distant. But yes, of course he is aware of it. Of course he would like to play for the Celtics this season. “It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward said. “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I’m making sure that if I come back, I’m one-thousand percent confident in myself and my leg. I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that’s not something I’m stressing about. I’m stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better.”

His return date, of course, remains unclear. The Celtics have been cautious, consistently saying they do not expect Hayward back this season. Hayward does not expect it, either. He does not like to think that far ahead. But he is also an undeniably fierce competitor, and there is no better motivator at the end of this long, trying journey than playing in an NBA game again. “I feel like for me it’s better to just tell myself, ‘Let’s be better today than I was yesterday,’ and then keep doing that day in and day out,” Hayward said. “And if it happens to get to the point where the season’s still going on and I can play, then, like, that’s awesome.”
3 days ago via ESPN

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday that Gordon Hayward soon will shed his walking boot as he navigates the early stages of rehab from a fractured left ankle suffered in Boston’s season opener in Cleveland. Hayward’s wife, Robyn, posted a video of a bootless Hayward on Instagram on Wednesday, sparking chatter about Hayward’s progress. During his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the Sports Hub, Ainge said Hayward is “right on schedule,” though neither Hayward nor the Celtics have offered a timetable for his return to basketball activities and both have said he doesn’t expect to play again this season.

“There’s going to be days where he feels it’s not getting better or things aren’t going right. Just embrace those. That’s how I had to do it. That’s what mentors told me. As much as there’s going to be good days, the bad ones are going to come with it, and you just have to be prepared for those. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t be down on yourself. It’s part of the rehab stage. “And I just told him don’t get tired with the work. It’s tedious work, but it’s to build toward being better. So hopefully my words carried a little more weight by myself going through that. But we’re all wishing and praying for him.”

“I know I can’t help them physically on the court, but I am going to do everything in my power to support my teammates and coaches in every way imaginable. Whether it’s breaking down film or just providing leadership and guidance, I can’t wait to give back.” Hayward admitted he thought worst-case scenario moments after he landed awkwardly and his left leg buckled and broke. “When they were carting me out that’s when it hit me emotionally,” he said. “I got this wave of emotion like, ‘Am I done? Is this my career? Is this over?’”

Brad Stevens, Hayward’s longtime mentor and former/current coach, was among the people who helped him get into the airplane to be transported from Cleveland to Boston. “Getting me onto the plane wasn’t easy. I was on a stretcher, and I had to get carried up two flights of stairs,” he wrote. “They needed four people to carry me, and Coach Stevens was one of those four people. There were probably 25 other people there that all wanted to help, but he wanted to make sure he was one of the people to do it. I mean…that’s just the person he is.”

Gordon Hayward: I had run that play countless times. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve been knocked off balance in the air. There’s been times when I’ve had close calls, when I’ve come down pretty hard. And for the most part, I’ve always been fine. I just bounced right back up. This time didn’t feel any different when I was in the air. I mean, I knew—there’s a moment when you’re in the air and you’re knocked off balance, and you realize, “Oh no, I’m about to come down hard.” But a lot of times, you’re able to kind of adjust your body in the air so you come down flat, and don’t land on anything you can hurt that badly. This time, my leg got caught underneath me. Immediately, I knew something was off, but when I landed, it wasn’t a huge amount of pain. I rolled over and saw my foot, and it was pointed in completely the wrong direction. My first thought was, “Oh. This isn’t good. There’s something very wrong here.” I felt a sense of panic come over me and signaled to the ref, “Hey, look at this. You’ve got to stop the game.” And still, it didn’t seem like it was hurting that much.

Gordon Hayward: It was like once my brain figured out what had happened, I was hit with shots of pain. The training staff came running over to me super fast, but however long it was—three seconds, five seconds—I just remember sitting there, looking at my foot the wrong way, and it felt like an eternity. Dr. Rosneck, the Cavaliers doctor, braced me as he explained that they wanted to try and pop my ankle back into place. I held on, and the moment they did it, there was just a massive shot of pain, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.

Gordon Hayward: But now, instead of competing in the game that had been talked about since the summer, I was in one of the training rooms at the Q, getting X-rays. The first person who talked to me back there was Isaiah Thomas. He was already back there in a training room. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know he said a prayer for me, like right next to me. He was just there for me. I’ve learned in a short time what a special guy Isaiah is. When the X-rays were done, the doctors told me, “Look. You have a broken ankle. We are going to make some calls, and figure out what everybody wants you to do.” For the moment, the plan was to fly back to Boston with the team, go straight to the hospital and make more decisions tomorrow.

Gordon Hayward: At six, the doctors came in, and told us that they wanted to do a formal X-ray, a CAT scan, and an MRI. They wanted to get a 360-degree view of my foot. So we spent the rest of the morning doing tests, and then the rest of the day trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the surgery. The next day was moving in slow-motion. Danny Ainge came by and offered me some advice with the surgery. At some point, Coach Stevens came back and stayed with me for a bit. He asked if we needed anything from him, and although I don’t remember this, people say that I asked him for a basketball. I must have, because when I got home a couple days later, Tracy had brought one by. There were so many decisions that had to be made regarding the surgery. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to help with the decisions, so I just listened to all of the the different ideas and suggestions, and allowed those I trust most to digest everything, and help me come to a final decision. All I knew was that I just wanted to get the surgery completed and get on the road to recovery. Finally, at 6:30 PM, we came to a consensus to do the surgery that night.

Orlando coach Frank Vogel told Stevens that when his former Pacers star, Paul George, began rehabbing from a broken leg, he started shooting out of a chair. “He’s doing better. But he’s obviously just beginning the rehab process,” said Stevens. “He did do a little bit of what he was supposed to do outside (Sunday), which was good. Get out in the sun. He hasn’t come over to the facility yet, he’s at home (yesterday), but we’ve sent people to him. He’ll start coming in a little bit more over the next few days to get worked on here, to get re-checked here, and everything else.”

Gordon Hayward’s horrific and saddening injury not only robbed the Celtics of a standout player and fresh face of the franchise, it has also put the organization in a roster quandary and perhaps changed season expectations. “When KG went down in ’09, we weren’t sure that he was done,” Danny Ainge said. “We were sort of thinking that he might come back, he’s not too far away, and that made that a challenging year. We weren’t sure what to do because we were trying to buy time, and in Gordon’s case, he’s most likely out for the year. So that’s a different scenario.”

Ainge said he will be patient in making roster moves and he doesn’t necessarily feel there’s immediate pressure on the organization to react to such adversity. “Right now there’s no deal we’re doing right this second,” Ainge said. “It’s next man up, opportunities for the guys that [were not] going to get these opportunities all of a sudden play with no Marcus Morris and no Gordon Hayward. That’s 65 minutes a game right there. Until we find a deal that we like, we’ll do all we can to be patient.”

“A lot of our players and coaches had planned on Gordon being a big, big part of our season, our planning, end-of-the-game situations. Yeah, you’re losing a key guy, the most versatile of all of them, play four positions and play with all sorts of different lineups, could lead our second unit of young guys and a guy that could be on the court and finish the game with Kyrie [Irving] and Al [Horford], so yeah, there’s a lot of adjusting on the fly. Brad [Stevens] has a very difficult job ahead of[ him and so do our players. But like I said, I believe there’s a lot of good that could still happen this year for us.”

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he did not mean to suggest a timeline for Gordon Hayward when he referenced how the injured All-Star plans to approach the next five months. “I was just speaking generally, more focused on how to keep him engaged and active,” Stevens clarified after practice Saturday. “But there’s no timeline. And like it’s been said, we’re not anticipating having him back this year. But I got a lot of questions about that.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Brad Stevens: “I called Frank Vogel the day I drove to the gym, when we played Milwaukee, and just asked him, ‘What are some of the things that Paul did in his year off that you would really encourage? What are some of the things that we should be looking [to]?’ And, hey, [Hayward is] going to be the best guy shooting out of a chair, with his left hand, with his right hand, perfect his form, and let’s have fun. Let’s come up with creative ways to attack this thing.”

More than a decade has passed since Livingston became infamous on YouTube for one of the most gruesome knee injuries in the history of professional sports. Now an essential reserve for the defending NBA champion Warriors, he finds himself empathizing with Hayward, who will probably miss the rest of the season with a fractured left tibia. “It’s the not-knowing that’s the worst part,” Livingston said. “He doesn’t know how long it’s really going to take to come back. He doesn’t know if he’s going to be the same player. He doesn’t know. … And that fear of the unknown, it just brings you down. It casts a cloud over your future.”

Bartelstein said that Hayward was aware of the reception he received at the game, and he has been touched by the outpouring of support in Boston, around the NBA, and around the world. “I think it’s been just unbelievable,” Bartelstein said. “I think it’s been overwhelming for him. “I think the one thing that comes out from something like this is you see how much people care about you. “I think it means the world to him, and I think he’s really been inspired by just the way people in Boston and around the world have reached out to him. It’s been great. The reaction at the arena last night meant the world to him.”

Bobby Marks: The likelihood is that the [Boston Celtics] will apply for the disabled player exception, which will be worth up to $8.4 million. The league will have to determine whether Gordon Hayward’s injury will keep him out until June 15–the target date–for it to be granted. I think it’s good to have, I just don’t see how many good options are out there. The rule is, you’re trading for or signing players on a one-year contract. If you look at the [small forwards] under contract, there’s not many great ones out there that can have an immediate impact right now.

Gordon Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said in a phone interview Thursday morning that Hayward’s surgery to repair a dislocated ankle and broken tibia “went really well,” but he cautioned that it is unlikely that the Celtics forward will play this season. “I think he’s going to do great,” Bartelstein said. “We have no question about a full recovery, and he’ll be back better than ever. But it’s going to be a while. It’s going to be a process. It’s going to take a little bit, so we’ve just got to go through the process.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Hayward, dressed in a hospital gown, appeared on the video board to thunderous cheers. “What’s up, everybody? I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” said Hayward. “I’m going to be all right. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener, I want nothing more [than] to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. I’ll be supporting you guys from here. I wish you the best of luck. Kill it tonight.”
2 months ago via ESPN

If there’s one player who understands what Gordon Hayward is going through, it’s Paul George. The Oklahoma City Thunder star said seeing Hayward’s devastating injury Tuesday night made him “nauseous.” “It just brought me back to Vegas and when it happened to me, my incident,” George said Wednesday. “Immediately I felt devastated. I was like nauseous watching it, just going back to that place. Immediately after it happened I texted Gordon. We talked last night. I just tried to give him words of encouragement, just tried to be there for him.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Much like Hayward, George received overwhelming support from not only around the NBA, but all of professional sports, something he said was extremely helpful in his road back to the floor. “I think we do a great job as players to kind of pick one another up,” he said. “At the end of the day, man, this is a brotherhood, and we genuinely care for everybody’s health. Health is most important. I’ve been there. I know what that outreach did for me, so I wanted to be there for Gordon in his time of need and help pick him up. Hopefully I can be one of the best influences, going through that.”

Kobe Bryant: Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it’s success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.

Determining how long Hayward will be sidelined is difficult as injuries of this magnitude rarely have a good comparison, especially in the NBA. Initial associations to Paul George’s gruesome leg injury during the summer of 2014 are natural but the two injuries are drastically different. George’s injury was an open fracture of both the tibia and the fibula. Though a rod was eventually inserted to stabilize the fracture site, the break actually occurred in a favorable location. By breaking the bones near the mid-shaft, George was able to avoid extensive ligament and tendon damage. However, it is unlikely Hayward was as fortunate. His break occurred at the distal end of the tibia, a site that serves as an anchor site for multiple ligaments. Furthermore, it is rare that a dislocation occurs without some level of ligament or soft tissue damage. Damage to the articular cartilage of the talus must also be considered.
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