“I think, as a point guard, it’s your job to know where your teammates like getting the ball, giving it to them when they’re open. Seeing that we have the ball in our hands for so much of the time, I just think they feed off of it.”
As many know, my favorite non-Dirk basketball player is Gordon Hayward. (I don’t really consider Dirk human, more of an entity, leaving Hayward to claim the top spot in my heart.)
He returns to Utah tonight for the first time since leaving the Jazz two summers ago for the Boston Celtics. I desperately wanted him to stay with the Jazz and Jazz fans are totally in their right to boo him for leaving. That's the way sports works.
I would have loved to see him, especially as my favorite player and the lovable dorky nerd gamer he is, buck the current free agent trend and stay with his original team despite the small market.
It didn’t happen. And it was ugly. The leaked decision and the subsequent Players Tribune post made a tricky situation a certifiable mess.
When a big free agent leaves a team, it usually leaves them in an unenviable spot. However. Donavan Mitchell is a STUD. Obviously that is a happy coincidence lining up with Hayward’s flimsy departure, but the Jazz are more than happy with Mitchell and are anything but left high and dry after Hayward exited in free agency.
Added into the Hayward mix is his devastating injury seconds into his career with his new team. It wasn’t just any injury either, but a gruesome one on national TV that could very well have ended his young career right then and there.
The ultimate humbling variable in sports is injuries. Just like in non-athlete, regular human life, health is precious. To an athlete, health is their livelihood. Gordon was forced to miss an entire year of his career and the pain he went through on that night is something I hope you and I never have to experience.
I’ve gotten to meet Hayward a couple times when he came through Dallas. It was brief, short and sweet as most athlete encounters are. He gave me his wristband that he wears during games, with the words “Eyes Up Do The Work” inscribed into it. That was in 2014. I still wear it.
So let’s not boo Gordon. The Jazz are just fine.
And he’s expecting his third daughter. He desperately wanted a son. Give the guy a break.
A Jazz fan, but a bigger Gordon Hayward fan
P.S. I’ll throw on my green Jazz Hayward jersey for the game tonight.
“The first two years I felt like I was forcing it a little bit. I’m playing more freely now and trying to do what the team needs me to do.”
“Cancer has affected so many people in this country, breast cancer specifically has touched some people in my life, so it was automatic.”
Come for the bad pun, stay for the good story.
“Essentially, each contract serves as incentive for players to stick around and go to the NBA G League affiliate, as opposed to going directly overseas right away.”
“It’s always a cool experience no matter how many times you wear it. It’s still a surreal feeling.”
“…He’s got a high ceiling and someone that is gonna be fun to work with. There’s a lot to work with.”
“I just wanted to improve the oohs and aahs and see how many oohs and aahs I could get at the end of the day.”
“It’s almost like the NCAA Tournament or conference tournament all over again."
RIP Zeke Upshaw 1991-2018.
“It means a lot because I see how hard the staff works and how hard the coaches work. It’s just good to win and give them recognition that way. They deserve the success that we can show on the court.”
"...here with Coach Mac, he’s putting me in a position to display the shot and show I have that ability.”
"...everybody has bought into the system. Everybody wants the same thing. We all want to win.”
“I’m not about stats,” Avila conceded. “I’m all about wins. But if they stack up like that..."
“They’ve been with me for the last two years. They know me. They definitely hold a special place in my heart. I’m happy that they get to see me finally get called up.”
"I just try to fill whatever role is needed of me."
I feel like I’ve always gone under the radar. I feel like I’ve been underrated my whole life...that’s what drives me
"With Mot, he’s one of the best players in the league, he makes my life easier and makes everyone’s life easier.” - Jameel Warney
“When that guy gets called up, it’s going to be one of the greatest days of my life.”