Ryan L. Fox
Back on July 14, 2017, the Boston Celtics made a big splash in NBA free agency that year when they signed former Utah Jazz free agent SF Gordon Hayward to a 4-year, $128-million deal. This seemed like a perfect match as the Celtics got an All-Star caliber free agent and Hayward was able to reunite his old University of Butler coach Brad Stevens, who was the coach of the Celtics.
But the man that was referred to as ‘Flash Gordon’ during his playing days with the Jazz suddenly came crashing down the moment he donned the green and white.
It all started in the season opener of the 2017/2018 NBA season in Hayward’s first game as a Boston Celtic against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the first quarter of the game, Hayward tried to finish an alley-oop pass from teammate PG Kyrie Irving for a bucket. Guarding him on the play was Cavaliers SF Jae Crowder, who was with the Celtics the previous season.
On the play though, Crowder got underneath Hayward as he was in the air. That caused Hayward to land awkwardly back on the court as the Celtic small forward’s left leg gave out from underneath him. In the ensuing fall, Hayward landed awkwardly and snapped his ankle to the point where his left point in a direction that it could never normally do on its own. Hayward ended up leaving the game on the stretcher and taken to the hospital nearby where it was revealed he suffered a fractured tibia and a dislocated ankle. His first season with the Celtics was over before it was started.
Fast forward to the 2018/19 NBA Season.
After spending all of the year before and NBA offseason rehabbing and getting to full strength, Hayward was cleared to play. Due to an overabundance at the small forward position on the Celtics that year (SF Jayson Tatum, SG/SF Jaylon Brown, SF Marcus Morris) Hayward was relegated to coming off the bench for most of the year.
But even then, it seemed that the injury bug found its way to sting him.
In a Saturday contest on March 16, 2019 against the Atlanta Hawks, Hayward came into the game off the bench in the first quarter. But almost as soon as he game in, he found himself exiting the game with a trainer.
With about 4 minutes left in the quarter on the defensive side, Hayward ended up colliding with Hawks F/C John Collins on a screen. Collins’ shoulder knocked Hayward in the head, knocking him back. He ended up leaving as was diagnosed after the game by the Celtics medical staff with a neck strain. Because he also said he ‘felt woozy’, Hayward had to be admitted into the NBA concussion protocol. Hayward ended up missing the next few games while in the concussion protocol until he was cleared to play.
Now fast forward to the 2019/20 NBA season. This time, it seemed that misfortune and the injury bug plagued Hayward during the season.
First, in a November contest against the San Antonio Spurs down in San Antonio, late in the second quarter, Hayward was trying to cover his man in the Celtics end. However, Spurs PF LaMarcus Aldridge tried to set up a screen but instead collided with Hayward. Hayward ended up banging his hand on Aldridge’s forearm and suffered a bone fracture in his left hand that sidelined him for a month.
Then on December 11th contest against the Indiana Pacers, Hayward intercepted a pass from Pacers SF Doug McDermott late in the game. Unfortunately for Hayward, he ended up intercepting the pass with his face with the ball hitting him square in the nose. Luckily, Hayward’s nose didn’t break, and he passed the NBA concussion protocol tests to be able to play. But just a few days later, Hayward had to miss a few games while dealing with nerve issues in his right foot.
After the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and shut down sports for a few months, you would think that would give Hayward’s body enough time to heal up.
It did…and then he got injured again.
After the whole restart of the NBA season, the postseason kicked off as it pitted the Boston Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers. In Game 1 of the best-of-7-series, with a little over 3 minutes left in the game Hayward went up to go for a defensive rebound after the 76ers missed the shot. When he came back down on the court, Hayward ended up landing awkwardly on his right ankle. Although he was able to hobble off on his own, it was later found out that Hayward suffered a Grade III right ankle sprain and is expected to be out for about 4 weeks.
Here’s the irony of all this. Hayward was never really known as a player who would miss significant time due to injury. In 7 years with the Utah Jazz, Hayward played in 516 games out of a possible 558 games (approximately 92.5%). But in 3 years with the Celtics, Hayward played in only 126 out of a possible 226 games (approximately 55.8%) with a huge portion (if not all of) of the games not being played due to injury.
Is it just a bad luck that is plaguing Hayward with this injuries or just his body becoming a little more fragile due to the wear and tear of the NBA?
Whatever the case maybe, it seems that unless Gordon can train his body to be more durable and go through an NBA season without any injury that will cause him to miss significant time, he simply known as Glass Gordon.
Resident of the medical room!
He'll miss the NBA season with injury!
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