Joe Ingles almost immediately reached for his phone and dialed Gordon Hayward’s number. Quin Snyder sent him a text. Donovan Mitchell sent a tweet, and immediately thought of former Louisville star Kevin Ware. The Jazz as an organization released a statement on social media.
In the moments following Hayward’s major injury, a dislocated ankle and broken tibia suffered in Tuesday night’s season opener between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, there were no thoughts of Hayward’s departure from the Jazz. Ingles and Snyder were just concerned about their friend.
“I reached out to him, and we talked briefly,” Ingles said. “I just wanted him to know that I was thinking about him and there for him, and whatever he needed, I would try and help.”
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter against the Cavs on the very alley-oop play the Jazz used to run for him at least once a game. He tried to catch the pass over LeBron James and Jae Crowder, landed awkwardly on his left leg and the rest was history.
As of Wednesday morning, the Celtics haven’t released an official timeline on his injury. But the sentiment is that Hayward’s season is in jeopardy. He was in the first of a five-year max deal with Boston, and the Celtics were penciled in as a contender to challenge Cleveland for the Eastern Conference and advance to the NBA Finals.
Now, all of that is in question.
“I didn’t see the injury live, but I got a text pretty quickly from [Jazz point guard} Ricky Rubio,” Snyder said. “I reached out to Gordon and he hit me back. It was emotional.”
Hayward’s injury went a long way to illustrate the brotherhood of NBA players, each of whom know a freak accident can happen to any one of them. Many sent well wishes and prayers to Hayward via twitter. Former NBA star and current television analyst Charles Barkley pledged to bid $25,000 on Hayward’s game-worn jersey from Tuesday night. James went into the locker room during the game to check on Hayward.
“I didn’t see it, someone told me about it,” Jazz forward Joe Johnson said. “It’s really unfortunate. I hope he has a speedy recovery.”
Hayward’s wife Robyn responded with a lengthy Instagram message on Wednesday morning, thanking fans and players for the prayers and well wishes. She also said Hayward would come back stronger.
Gordon Hayward sent a video message from his hospital bed before the team’s home opener on Wednesday night, telling Boston fans: “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there.”
The crowd at the TD Garden for the Celtics’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks cheered when Marcus Smart directed fans’ attention to the scoreboard, where Hayward appeared wearing a hospital gown and sitting up in bed. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Hayward was undergoing surgery on Wednesday night.
The arena hushed to hear the brief message, then erupted in another cheer when it was over.
“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said in the 30-second message, which was also sent out by the team on Twitter .
“I’m going to be all right,” Hayward said. “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck.”