The past 24 hours have been choppy waters for Gordon Hayward and the NBA community. The Boston Celtics will discover whether they’ll sink or swim in the aftermath of Hayward’s horrific opening night injury, but prior to tipoff of their home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, the fans at TD Garden received a surprise appearance from the injured star.
While awaiting surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia, the star forward recorded a video message that interrupted the pregame nervous energy within The Garden.
Hayward, who can be seen cloaked in a hospital gown, appeared to be in good spirits as he addressed the home crowd:
Afterward, the Celtics introduced Hayward to the home crowd as a member of the starting lineup for the first time during player introductions. Though it obviously wasn’t how they imagined it when they signed the former Utah Jazz star in free agency this summer, it was a poignant moment, capped by an ovation for the injured Hayward.
— NBA (@NBA) October 18, 2017
Hayward’s sentimental message was succinct, but Boston will take any sliver of positive emotions it can right now. Earlier in the evening, head coach Brad Stevens provided a positive update on Hayward’s predicament.
“I was [at the hospital] for a minute last night and also again today for an hour or so. He’s down,” Stevens said at his presser. “Obviously, there’s a physical pain to it, but I think it’s also doubled by the emotional pain of, you know, he put a lot of effort into trying to start this, his career, out well in Boston.
“But this is a setback; we’re expecting a full recovery. And we know there are going to be a lot of tough days ahead on that recovery but, at the same time, hopefully he’ll improve day to day. But it’s been tough. It’s been tough for him.”
While Stevens was short on specifics, the major takeaway is that the specialists who’ve examined Hayward don’t believe this to be a career-threatening injury. That’s great news, as Hayward is only in the first year of the four-year, $128 million deal he signed this summer. His recovery will continue to be at the forefront of everyone’s collective concerns, but his long-term health and the outlook for the next three years are important, too.
While the Celtics battled the Bucks, Hayward’s journey to recovery got underway, according to his father:
In surgery now… Prayers for my son please!
Surgeon said 2-3 hours…whatever it takes. #Godsgotthis!
— Gordon Scott Hayward (@GScottHayward) October 19, 2017
The Celtics say they will provide an update on Hayward’s expected timetable when appropriate after the procedure.