Gordon Hayward’s devastating injury during Tuesday’s game was not how the Celtics’ season was supposed to start. Danny Ainge’s gutsy moves during the offseason were going to make the Celtics finally surpass LeBron and his Cavs. Although the Celtics did show great resilience against Cleveland, it would be foolish to say that the trajectory of their season hasn’t been altered.
Gordon Hayward was the marquee free agent of the 2017 offseason. He was courted by the Utah Jazz (his team, at the time), Miami Heat, and the Celtics, and eventually signed a 4 year contract with the Celtics for $128 million. Hayward had been a star with Utah for 7 seasons, and this was going to be the year where he would help lead his new team to greater heights.
The circumstances surrounding Hayward’s injury help to show us that life is very fragile, and that we can never predict what will happen to us in the future. The game between the Cavaliers and the Celtics started with anticipation surrounding Kyrie Irving’s return to Cleveland, and took a drastic turn after the injury to Hayward. The gruesome sight took the air out of Quicken Loans Arena, as the people in the building forgot their allegiances; opting to instead pray for Hayward. TNT’s broadcast of the game featured several members of the Cavaliers’ bench jumping up in shock after seeing the sight on the floor.
As Charles Barkley noted during TNT’s broadcast of the Cavs-Celtics game, the saddest thing about Hayward’s injury is that it happened during a play he has probably done more than a hundred times. Hayward’s injury is a reminder that athletes are human just like the rest of us. Even though they may display superhuman feats during games, freak accidents can upend their lives. Many NBA players, such as Dwyane Wade recognized that injury is an unfortunate part of the game, and that it can happen to anyone at anytime. Constant training and conditioning can help players improve their strength, but in Hayward’s case, it didn’t help prevent his ankle from fracturing.
Instead of helping the Celtics get to their goal of hoisting the Larry O’Brian Trophy in June, Hayward will need to be working hard in rehab in order to come back stronger than ever. An entire season has been dashed, due to one awkward landing.
Life is truly fragile after all…