BOSTON (AP) — Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics says he knows he will not play again this season, after needing surgery to repair a grotesque leg injury on opening night last month.
The announcement, on Hayward’s Facebook page, came as little surprise given the severity of the injury. Hayward wrote about several previously unrevealed aspects of the injury and the aftermath, including how four people – including Celtics coach Brad Stevens – were needed to carry him onto the plane that night in Cleveland, and how even former President Barack Obama has been among those sending well-wishes for his recovery.
“I honestly can’t say enough about everyone’s kindness,” Hayward wrote.
Hayward is expected to hold a news conference at the Celtics’ facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, on Thursday. He also has taped an interview that will appear Thursday on NBC’s “Today.”
Hayward was injured about 5 minutes into the opener at Cleveland, a shocking end to a season of great expectations. Hayward was one of the marquee prizes of free agency this past summer, leaving Utah and signing with Boston to chase an NBA title and reunite with Stevens, his college coach at Butler.
“I keep imagining what it’s going to be like to step onto the floor at the Garden, and make my regular season debut as a Celtic,” Hayward wrote. “It’s going to be a little delayed. But with each day of my rehab, I’ll be that much closer to making it happen. I’m already dreaming about sharing that moment with everyone here in Boston.”
Hayward said when he saw his foot pointing the wrong way after his awkward landing, the pain was not initially very intense. It was, however, when doctors tending to him on the floor tried to re-set his ankle.
“The moment they did it, there was just a massive shot of pain, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” Hayward wrote.
The Celtics lost in Cleveland that night, and Hayward was with the team for the flight home. The Celtics played their home opener the next night, while Hayward was in surgery.
“On the flight back, my teammates all came by to encourage me,” Hayward wrote. “It was very emotional for me to see how all of these new teammates of mine, guys who I had only spent a few weeks with at that point, were so sincere about their concern for me. Their support has at times overwhelmed me and it will not be forgotten.”
Hayward said he’s heard from plenty of stars from the NBA and other sports, like NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt, retired Lakers great Kobe Bryant – and Oklahoma City’s Paul George, who also had a horrible fracture while playing for USA Basketball in 2014.
“He knows better than anyone, maybe, exactly what it is I’m going through, and will be going through,” Hayward wrote. “I’m thankful that he reached out right away, and that’s he’s someone I can continue to talk to.”
As for Obama, who is a huge basketball fan?
“That was a pretty big deal,” Hayward said.
Hayward said it was difficult at first to watch Celtics games, knowing he couldn’t play. But he’s started watching, and hopes to have some sort of role the rest of the season.
“I know I can’t help them physically on the court, but I am going to do everything in my power to support my teammates and coaches in every way imaginable,” Hayward wrote. “Whether it’s breaking down film or just providing leadership and guidance, I can’t wait to give back. I’ve already received so much.”