When the NBA announced the decision to allow its players to spread messages of social justice on the backs of their uniforms, most Celtics players used their newfound platform to speak out about the nation’s current racial climate.
“Enough,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Freedom” are three messages you can find on the backs of at least seven Celtics players, including Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and Enes Kanter. However, when it was announced that Gordon Hayward had elected to go with “Education Reform,” Hayward was criticized on social media by some Celtics fans for not picking a message directly related to racial injustice.
Hayward Explains Why He Chose “Education Reform”
Hayward, who hadn’t spoken to the media since his decision, explained his reasoning behind “Education Reform” Tuesday afternoon.
“There’s a lot of issues that are going on right now that need to be fixed and need change,” Hayward said. “One thing that I’m passionate about is education. I think education is the key. Especially having little kids of my own, giving little kids the opportunity, it hits home. Everybody should have an equal opportunity and certainly, there’s a lot of places that don’t. It’s those places that really need our support. There’s a lot to be done in that area.
“My wife and I have been in the education sector in Boston since we’ve gotten here, and it’s something that we’ll continue to do.”
Hayward is one of 11 NBA players that chose to replace the last name on the back of their jerseys with “Education Reform,” including Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan and Blazers guard CJ McCollum.
Hayward Off To A Hot Start
After dealing with soreness and nerve issues in his left foot all season, Hayward expressed concern over the fact that the pain continued throughout the season’s suspension and into the opening days of training camp, prior to the team’s flight to Orlando.
“I wish that I had an answer to why it is a little sore,” Hayward said on a Zoom call with reporters. “I think a lot of it relates to just the injury that I had. I’ve been training pretty much this whole time. Not full go obviously, since I haven’t had a court the whole time, but I have been trying to stay fit. I’ve been resting but at the same time not resting.
“Kind of like a maintenance type thing. Everything is definitely a lot better, there is no doubt about that. For sure, I’m feeling great, it’s just the foot still is a little sore. It is what it is.”
Hayward, in the midst of his finest season in Boston, hasn’t skipped a beat on the floor. He averaged 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists in the Celtics’ first two games; a small sample size to gauge where Hayward’s production will lead him in a couple of weeks when the postseason kicks off, but those numbers are also not a far cry from what he’s been doing all year long.