Players' reactions to Hayward injury shows the brotherhood of the NBA
Adrian Dy on Oct 18, 2017 02:08 PM
Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) falls as Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) reaches for a loose ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Cleveland. Hayward broke his left ankle on a play. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
For a certain section of basketball fans, there’s something big missing in the modern NBA - true rivalries.
We all know someone like that. “The NBA is less physical now.” “Everyone is too buddy-buddy.”
This type of fan wants players to be mad even before the opening tip of a game. “I’m pissed off at that guy wearing a different color jersey” mad. “I’m gonna send my defender to the floor with a forearm shiver” mad. “Help my opponent up? Why the heck would I do that?” mad.
Why are NBA players so chummy now, compared to years past? The rise of AAU basketball means they’ve been teaming up since they were in high school. More international tournaments means more bonding time. Shorter contracts and more player movement equals the guy you’re trying to squash this year, can become your teammate next year, and so on.
The fan longing for cutthroat NBA rivalries wishes all of that were not so anymore. He or she believes that the game could use a jolt of intensity, more heat. When a team loses, the best player should not dap up his counterpart on the other side. He should instead storm off in a huff, and start plotting ways to beat him when they meet again.
Cleveland versus Boston was supposed to be a rivalry. The two had clashed in the playoffs, but now, the venom was supposed to be amped up, with Kyrie Irving leaving The Land for Beantown, and Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder going from green-and-white to wine-and-gold.
LeBron James was going to dunk all over his former protege for asking for a trade.
The Celtics and their pair of #3 overall picks were going to show that the East was theirs for the taking.
Instead, things changed dramatically when Boston’s Gordon Hayward landed awkwardly on a shot attempt, early in the first quarter.
The crowd fell silent. The Cavs bench, who got a front-row view of the injury, recoiled in horror. Players on both sides turned pale. It was that kind of an injury, the type you hope the TV coverage doesn’t replay.
But the Cavaliers didn’t rub it in the Celtics’ faces. They’re fully aware of how quickly an injury can change the course of a season. And on social media, thoughts and prayers quickly poured in from players from all of the other 28 NBA teams. Later on, we found out that James and Thomas sought out Hayward in the locker room.
We may never get rivalries on the same scale as the 80’s and 90’s. And that’s not quite a bad thing. All of these players know they’re part of an elite band of brothers, playing in the NBA. When one goes down, it’s a tragedy, not something to celebrate.
Get well soon Gordon Hayward. Fans, and the guys you play with and against, all want you back healthy on the court.
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