Gordon Hayward’s horrific ankle injury in the first quarter of the opening game of the season will be one of lasting images in the NBA this year, as unfortunate as it is.
Hayward has had surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured leg and will soon begin his rehab process. The past two weeks have given Hayward plenty of time to think back on the night he suffered one of the worst looking injuries in NBA history, and on Wednesday night he wrote about everything in a lengthy Facebook post.
He detailed exactly what went through his mind and what he remembers from the play where he got injured, as he pondered his future in basketball. Hayward also explained what the rest of his night was like, as he waited in the locker room for the game to end, calling the second half that he waited through “the longest half of basketball ever.”
Rather than fly him back separately, Hayward flew home with the team while on his stretcher, which made for a tricky task getting him on board. As he recalls, four people had to carry him up the stairs and onto the plane, one of which being Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
After the game, they took me in an ambulance to the team plane. My leg was wrapped in a small, soft cast type of thing to keep it stable on the flight. I’d had some Tylenol, but nothing like hardcore pain medicine. So my ankle was throbbing pretty good, and pretty much stayed that way until we reached the hospital in Boston.
Getting me onto the plane wasn’t easy. I was on a stretcher, and I had to get carried up two flights of stairs. They needed four people to carry me, and Coach Stevens was one of those four people. There were probably 25 other people there that all wanted to help, but he wanted to make sure he was one of the people to do it. I mean…that’s just the person he is.
It’s pretty incredible that he his stretcher had to be carried onto the plane — NBA teams don’t leave from a standard airport terminal with a jetway — and it says something that Stevens insisted on being one of the ones to help. Hayward mentioned how grateful he was to receive so much genuine support and concern from his teammates and the staff, of which he’d only really been with for a month or so, but no one on the Celtics has as great a connection with Hayward as Stevens, which is why he insisted on being there to lend added support.