In a lengthy November Facebook post entitled “In an Instant”, Gordon Hayward gave fans an inside look at the night of his horrific leg injury, and admitted he does not expect to be back on the court this season. In a press conference the following day, Hayward said he is not putting a timetable on his return, and is instead focused on the daily grind of rehab.
Despite not being in the Celtics lineup, Hayward has done a number of interviews and social media posts detailing the beginning his journey back to playing again. Celtics GM Danny Ainge posted this photo of Hayward taking shots while sitting in a chair, something Hayward is making a habit of doing as part of his rehab.
Just minutes into his Celtics debut, Hayward suffered a fractured ankle and torn ligaments after going up for an alley-oop pass then landing awkwardly. Hayward explained the injury in his Facebook post.
Immediately, I knew something was off, but when I landed, it wasn’t a huge amount of pain. I rolled over and saw my foot, and it was pointed in completely the wrong direction. My first thought was, ‘Oh. This isn’t good. There’s something very wrong here.’ I felt a sense of panic come over me and signaled to the ref, ‘Hey, look at this. You’ve got to stop the game.’ And still, it didn’t seem like it was hurting that much. Then all of a sudden, it came. It was like once my brain figured out what had happened, I was hit with shots of pain…
One person who has been a source of encouragement is Kobe Bryant, who knows what it is like to recover from a season-ending injury. After Hayward’s injury, Bryant posted a thoughtful Instagram post as a way to encourage Hayward.
Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you. Time to move on and focus on doing everything in your power to prepare for surgery, ask all the questions to be sure you understand fully the procedure so that you may visualize it in your subconscious while being operated on and better the chance of it’s success. Then focus on the recovery process day by day by day. It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted. This will also mean that when you return you will have a new perspective. You will be so appreciative of being able to stand, walk, run that you will train harder than you ever have. You see the belief within you grow with each mini milestone and you will come back a better player for it. Best of luck to you on this journey my brother #mambamentality always.
Since then, Hayward explained he has stayed in contact with Bryant as he continues his journey back to the court.
Kobe Bryant posted a message of support on Instagram, and then sent me an email. Kobe is somebody that I have leaned on and he has been in my corner since I’ve worked out with him. I can’t say enough about what it means to have his support, somebody who’s one of the all-time greats, and has basically been through it all. He didn’t have the same, exact thing happen, but he had a devastating injury that he had to recover from. That email meant a lot.
Hayward has also heard from former President Barack Obama, his old Jazz teammates, and Paul George, who suffered a similarly horrific injury.
Despite the severity of the injury, there have been bright moments like this viral video of Hayward’s daughter pretending she was walking on crutches like her father.
The Celtics have done surprisingly well in Hayward’s absence. After losing their first two games, Boston has won 13 straight games relying on the addition of Kyrie Irving and stellar defense to win games. In one of the biggest free agent moves of the off-season, Hayward signed a 4 year, $127.8 million dollar contract with the Celtics this summer after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Jazz.