Gordon Hayward is leaving no doubt that he’s attacking his recovery process aggressively and with optimism.
There have been several encouraging updates recently regarding Hayward, who underwent surgery after suffering a serious left leg injury in the Boston Celtics’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17. On Thursday, the C’s forward described in great detail on his website how he’s staying focused and making progress in the “long, arduous process of rehab.”
Hayward’s theme: “Be better today than I was yesterday.”
So far, so good. The 27-year-old is completely off crutches and out of his walking boot, instead wearing a brace for now as he continues to creep back toward 100 percent.
Of course, there’s still no timetable for Hayward’s return, even though many Celtics fans undoubtedly are salivating at the possibility of adding his All-Star talent in time for this season’s NBA playoffs. But it appears he’s doing well both physically and mentally, which is excellent news given how gruesome his injury looked when he went crashing to the floor a couple of months ago.
Here are some interesting nuggets from Hayward’s blog post, which definitely is worth a read.
— Hayward has been going to the Celtics’ facility every day to work with the team’s trainers. His regimen includes massage therapy/soft tissue work (to get some of the swelling out) and manual resistance stuff (leg extensions, leg curls, etc.), with the goal being to achieve better range of motion and maintain strength in his hips, calf and quad.
— Hayward has been playing a game with marbles to gain strength and range of motion. Basically, you pick up marbles with your toes and put them into a box. It sounds incredibly frustrating.
“That’s probably the toughest part physically,” Hayward wrote. “At the very beginning of it, it took me forever to get just one marble with my left foot. And I would have to cheat to try to pick it up. And that part’s frustrating, to not be able to do something that I can easily do with my right foot. But I’ve made progress, and now we make a competition out of it and try to get as low a time as I can. Slowly but surely, you get better and better. Now, I’m only like 10 seconds different from my right and my left, so it’s come a long way.”
— It can be tricky to keep the rest of your body in shape while dealing with a leg injury, but Hayward has been doing weight workouts and conditioning exercises after all of his daily leg work to keep up his heart rate and maintain muscle.
— What about basketball? Well, Hayward hits the hardwood and does as much as he can at the end of each workout.
“I’ve recently started to do some stuff standing up, so I don’t have to use the chair to shoot anymore,” Hayward wrote. “I can just shoot with the boot on, staying straight up. It’s non-movement stuff for now, but I can handle the basketball just standing straight up and do different drills like that.”
— Staying positive is important, and Hayward therefore is talking to a sports psychologist once a week to overcome any negativity that might rear its ugly head.
“It’s all a process. And it’s all about being patient,” Hayward wrote. “There’s still is a long road ahead.
“But I’m doing everything I can to get back 100 percent. I appreciate the continued support and all the messages I’ve received. It’s definitely humbling and motivating at the same time.”
— The most difficult part of the whole recovery process? Watching Celtics games and other games across the NBA. Hayward made a difficult decision over the offseason to leave the Utah Jazz and sign with Boston in free agency, and now he’s forced to watch from afar.
Hayward attended the Celtics’ game against the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden on Nov. 16, which Boston won 92-88 in thrilling fashion.
“That first game back at the Garden was really tough,” Hayward wrote. “That was basically the first time I had been out of the house, in the public. My foot was throbbing the whole game, but I wanted to try to get to a game, and I knew it was a big one for us. It was difficult to sit there and watch, because the crowd was going crazy, and as a basketball player, you want to be a part of that.”
Hayward also attended the Celtics’ game against the Jazz last week, which Utah won 107-95.
— Hayward still is very much part of the team despite not being able to contribute on the court. He watches film, gives advice and frequently interacts with his teammates.
— Speaking of which, Hayward had nothing but good things to say about the Celtics’ performance so far this season. The All-Star forward lauded everyone, including Brad Stevens, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford.
His praise of sophomore Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum was notable, though, as they’ve both been forced into bigger roles as a result of Hayward’s absence.
On Brown: “Jaylen is probably one of the better athletes in the league from the wing position. Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve trained every single summer, every single day, to try to put on weight, to try to get to 230, 235 pounds and be strong. Jaylen just turned 21 years old a couple months ago, and is the same exact weight as I am.”
On Tatum: “As far as Jayson goes, he might be as polished of a 19-year-old player as I have ever seen. He doesn’t really have a part of his game, where you think, ‘Oh, that is something that he just can’t do.’ He has shown the ability to do just about anything.”
— Hayward acknowledged his home life has been “really good” and that it almost feels like an extension of summer. After all, he got hurt less than six minutes into his Celtics debut.
He’s gotten to spend more time with his wife, Robyn, who he admits probably is sick of him by now, and his two daughters. He also has spent a lot of time playing video games, which is a huge hobby of his.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images