Gordon Hayward apparently does more than love basketball. He needs it.
“It’s going to be really important for me and my mental health to stay involved and still be a part of the team as much as I can,” Hayward told reporters from the Boston Celtics‘ practice facilities on Thursday.
It was the first time he’d addressed the media face-to-face since his going down with a horrific season-ending ankle injury on the NBA’s opening night.
With his leg in a cast, Hayward is doing drills from a chair.
“Shooting out of a chair is a little bit different than shooting standing up. It’s pretty short. But just to be out on the court with a basketball, that was an incredible feeling, just to start that process.Just because for two weeks or whatever I was in a bed with my foot up the whole time,” Hayward said. “Those hours seem like they last forever, because you’re just sitting there and bored and can’t do much. I do whatever I can with the basketball. That’s what I love to do. That was fun. Looking forward to any chance to do that.”
After the brutal fall against the Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George, who has experience in bouncing back from shocking lower-body injuries, warned his fellow small forward of what lay ahead on the road to recovery.
“I just told Gordon, you know, it sucks,” George said of his communication with Hayward. “It’s what we all didn’t hope and wish for. But I just wanted him to be mindful that there’s going to be some tough days. That’s just what it is. There’s going to be days where he feels he’s not getting better or things aren’t going right. Just embrace those. That’s how I had to do it. That’s what mentors told me.”
Hayward has taken that advice and is using the knowledge to his advantage through his rehab process.
“Daily, I still have negative thoughts. It’s hard not to, especially when you watch the games,” he said. “It’s something that I’m trying to work on, like, I think I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have those thoughts. I think there are just definite positive things that I can take from this and there’s definitely no reason to continue to sulk and wallow in some self pity because it happened.”