Gordon Hayward’s move to the Boston Celtics will finally come full circle Friday night.
The Celtics swingman, who signed with Boston in the summer of 2017, is still finding his way with his new team. He missed virtually his entire first season with an injury suffered on opening night of last season.
Hayward is finally getting a chance to accomplish all of his “firsts” with the Celtics — the highlight being his first game in front of the Boston crowd on opening night — and on Friday night, he figures to have one of the most difficult hurdles to clear thus far.
On Friday night, the Celtics are in Utah to take on the Jazz, the team Hayward left to sign with the C’s. Jazz fans took the decision especially hard, many of them swearing off the All-Star who rose to NBA prominence near the shores of the Great Salt Lake.
Kyrie Irving is no stranger to ugly professional divorces. He forced his way out of Cleveland to get to Boston, and the Celtics point guard had some advice for Hayward when it comes to making his return to a now-hostile territory.
“Just try not to get too caught up into what the outside is going on,” Irving told reporters Thursday night, per MassLive.com. “It really doesn’t matter. It really does not matter — like, at all. I know the love and support that he’s garnered there. Gordon’s a great person. Don’t allow competition in basketball to be influenced by what everybody else’s opinion and criticism and all that other stuff of what it should be like in an environment for him. If they boo him, great. If they don’t, great. It doesn’t matter at all.
“It’s just basketball, like, you know what I mean? If anything, he gave (seven years) of his career trying to be the best he could in Utah, and I give him credit for that. And he made a decision in his career, and in his life, for his family, to be better. I’ll leave it at that.”
Chances are, Hayward gets booed Friday night. It’s just another step in the process.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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