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.”
Toucher and Rich: Danny Ainge just told us that Gordon Hayward is about two weeks away from being completely out of his walking boot for good.
One day after the world got its first peek at Gordon Hayward out of a cast, sitting at his computer with his daughter Bernie, Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations announced Hayward is expected to be out of his walking boot in two weeks. Ainge said Hayward hasn’t been begging anyone to put him back on the court any time soon, but acknowledged that Hayward deep down in his heart wants to fight every day to come back this season.
“You know, he hasn’t expressed that. Just knowing professional athletes, I know that down inside he wants to be back faster than anybody has ever been back from this kind of injury. He’s got a competitive streak to him. He’s asking lot of questions, he’s got good people around him. He’s diligent in his rehab. I know what’s going on in his mind, but I don’t think he’ll say anything about how fast he wants to get back.”
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.
“He’s progressing along. He can take the boot off for short periods of time,” Ainge told the “Toucher and Rich” program. “But he’s doing really well. His therapy is going great. He’s right on schedule. He’s doing sometimes two workouts a day and trying to get stronger. The next phases are getting out of the boot completely, but I still think that he’s a couple weeks away from being permanently out of the boot.”
Chris Forsberg: Robyn Hayward had an IG story video of a boot-less Gordon Hayward. Brad Stevens reminds everyone that he doesn’t wear it 24-7. “He is progressing in doing what he can do … And it’s been going well. .. He’s wearing the boot most of the day.” pic.twitter.com/WtTy5xbq90
Gordon Hayward’s wife inadvertently gave us an update on her husband’s condition this afternoon via Instagram. The screenshots show that Hayward is no longer confined to a walking boot. I mean, he might still need it for walking but the absence of a boot or bandage shall be interpreted as progress by this Celtics fan.
Bill Doyle: Big game tonight. Gordon Hayward here with boot and crutches.
Bill Doyle: Injured Gordon Hayward gets warm ovation when shown sitting courtside on Jumbotron.
“I talked to him,” the Thunder forward said yesterday morning as his club prepared to host the Hayward-less Celts. “Immediately after it happened, I sent him a text, and he probably got back to me within 20, 30 minutes of him being in the back. So I was just . . . you know, I didn’t feel what he felt, but I’ve been there and know that pain, and know what that feels like being in that position. So I just wanted to be there for him.”
“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.”
Scott Souza: #Celtics Gordon Hayward: I am putting zero expectations on myself as far as a timetable to return. But I’m doing rehab after this PC.
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.
Kristen Ledlow: Coach Stevens tells me Gordon Hayward will rejoin the team and be given the lead on video projects throughout his rehab process. #MILvsBOS
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.”
The Celtics will apply for salary cap relief to potentially pursue another player because of the severity of Gordon Hayward’s injury. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.
The Celtics also have an open roster spot — they broke camp with 14 players — and could use that space to add a player. Ainge said he is being patient with the process. And players who signed new contracts this summer are eligible to be traded on Dec. 15. “If there’s a deal that we have to do, we’ll do it,’’ Ainge said. “But until there’s a deal that we like, we won’t do it.”
Sean Grande: Gordon Hayward is out of the hospital and arrived home an hour ago. Rehab has begun.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Gordon Hayward was in good spirits Thursday after undergoing surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle. The two also talked about ways to keep Hayward engaged as he begins a lengthy rehab process.
Brad Stevens: “We talked a little bit about how to approach the next five months with maintaining that positivity — different ways to stay engaged, different ways to approach this, to attack this, and he was ready to get started on his rehab the minute he got out of surgery.”
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.”
Bartelstein said he spoke to Hayward before and after the procedure, and that his spirits remained high. “It obviously still shocks your world to go through something like that, but he’s a really strong kid and is going to put his mind in the right place. Right now we’ve just got to get through the pain from the surgery, which we’re working on.”
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.”
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.”
Interesting comments to me from Ex-NBA player/Celtics forward Shavlik Randolph, who had similar injury to Gordon Hayward. “It’s about a 4-6 month recovery. The ligaments take 6-8 weeks and the tibia was about three months to heal in all the places it broke. Ironically, I had the same injury and as bad as it looks it does heal back to 100 percent and does so surprisingly fast. I think there’s a chance he could be back this season if he really pushed it.
Pop said he couldn’t watch the Gordon Hayward injury. Happened while he was at dinner. Said he was watching game but looked away for a second. When he was informed about what happened, Pop said he refused to look.
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.”
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.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Boston’s Gordon Hayward will undergo his surgery tonight, league source tells ESPN.
Marc D’Amico: #NEBHInjuryReport Brad Stevens confirms Hayward’s original diagnosis of a dislocation and fracture of left tibia. He will require surgery.
Jay King: Stevens on Hayward: “We’re expecting a full recovery.” Said he doesn’t know yet if it’s season ending and won’t speculate with a timeline.
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.
Mark Murphy: Multiple sources say Hayward still being evaluated at NE Baptist. No surgery yet.
Isaiah Thomas: Woke up this morning praying hard for my guy @gordonhayward … Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback my brotha, all love from me! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾
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.
Surgery to fix the area will likely involve surgical screws and a plate, not a rod. These implants help stabilize the injury site as the associated ligament damage heals. Any complex ligament injuries may need to be surgically addressed as well.
Shaun Livingston: 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 @gordonhayward. Only God has ALL the answers.
Daniel Theis: Today it‘s not about Basketball, it‘s about a friend and a teammate! Come back stronger, Gordon!🙏🏼☘️ @gordonhayward #Celtics
Cedi Osman: We know that you will be back soon and stronger brother! 🙏 @gordonhayward
Jeff Green: As a player I never wish injury on anyone. Hated to see this happen. Prayers are with u bro… @gdhayward #StayStrong #Brotherhood
James Harden: Prayers up @Gordon Hayward. Wishing you a healthy recovery. 🙏🏾
David West: Sad for @Gordon Hayward …Been a fan since Butler…Peace be with you!
Michael Beasley: get well king #respect #WB
Bill Russell: @gordonhayward want you to know you are a #Celtic & you are not alone, we #bleedgreentogether
Magic Johnson: Praying for a speedy recovery for @Gordon Hayward.
DeMar DeRozan: @RealSkipBayless You’re a clown for that tweet after a man gets hurt with a potential career ending injury! Shit bigger then basketball!
Sean Grande: No surprise…one of the classiest organizations in sports.
Jeff Zillgitt: Gordon Hayward hasn’t been taken to a hospital and is still at Quicken Loans Arena, per @KristenLedlow.
The Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan called Bayless “a clown” and noted that this was “bigger than basketball.” The Spurs’ Rudy Gay called Bayless “a heartless clown.”
Manny Vieites: DeMar DeRozan has some words for Skip Bayless...
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December 10, 2017 | 9:55 pm EST Update
Chris Forsberg: Kyrie Irving asked if he maybe missed the mask. “Nah, I was happy to see the whole arena. I was excited to be able to see everything.” Did lament misses. “Make a damn shot. I got in the paint as much as I would have liked and my left hand just wasn’t doing it for me tonight. “
Gina Mizell: #Nuggets Will Barton on his missed pull-up jumper at the end of regulation: “I felt like I could have made it. I felt like I could have gotten a better shot. I pride myself in those moments, and tonight I didn’t deliver. I wish I could get it back and close it.”
December 10, 2017 | 7:22 pm EST Update
Jay King: Kyrie on clutch Tatum: “Some people have it and some people don’t. It’s just as simple as that. I think he’s pretty much shown that he can play, as people say, with the big boys at the end of the game.”