Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving says loss of Hayward jolted young C’s

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Kyrie Irving
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Kyrie Irving /

After the initial shock wore off, Kyrie Irving says the Boston Celtics were out to prove something after Gordon Hayward went down.

A season of excitement quickly dwindled into one of pure shock and despair when Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome lower leg injury just minutes into the NBA season.  Suddenly, a Boston Celtics team primed for an NBA Finals run became a sympathetic afterthought.

Despite still having Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and two talented young players destined for stardom, the Celtics were written off as instantly as it took for Hayward to come down awkwardly, ultimately ending his first season in green.

NBA pundits like Charles Barkley deemed the season over, and in fact, he still does.  But for Kyrie and the Celtics, the injury only inspired them not to go down like that.  They ran out to a 22-4 record and remain one of the top teams in the NBA.

For a team that had every reason to quit, Irving said the loss of Hayward motivated the team to prove they are still to be reckoned with.

"“Gordon’s a huge piece, and when you lose him, I think all hell broke loose a little bit, like, ‘What are they going to look like?’,” Irving told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.  “And a lot of guys took that personal, and they wanted to come out and prove something.”"

As unfortunately as Hayward’s injury was, it did open the door for players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to flourish.  While their youth is still a reason some NBA experts conclude the Boston Celtics are not a contender in the Eastern Conference, the experience they have gained will put them in a better position to contribute come playoff time.

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Through this all, Kyrie Irving has also taken on more of a leadership role in preparing the youngsters for what’s still to come in a long NBA season.  He continues to challenge them as well as himself.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t think about what would’ve been had Hayward not gone down or even what’s to come when he returns next season.

Dreaming of Gordon Hayward

With odd very low that Hayward actually returns during the 2017-18 NBA season, Irving is envisioning what this current team will look like with the All-Star forward.

Prior to All-Star Weekend, Kyrie Irving opened up about his teammate and how much he misses him.

"“I don’t want him to rush back.  We need him for years to come,” Irving said during an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” back in February.  “It would be great if he came back this year.  Hell, I miss him so much.  He knows that.  I just want him to do what’s best for him.”"

With the workout videos Hayward has released, it does appear that he is working to get back this year.  Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, however, has put the lid on that notion.

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Despite that, it is clear that Gordon Hayward has already had an impact on Irving and the rest of the Boston Celtics.  He may not be on the floor to help them win games physically, but his absence has given them the strength to push forward and go far beyond the so-called experts want to believe they can go.