How Gordon’s “Number One Fan” Felt About his Decision.
I love the Utah Jazz and I love Gordon Hayward. My entire Twitter feed has been a shrine to Gordon Hayward for the last seven years. I was on the G-Time bandwagon early on. I love his game. I always have and I always will, so I was just as surprised as anyone when he decided to leave Utah for the Boston Celtics.
From a basketball perspective, there are only a handful of players in the NBA that can do what he does. He has a complete game. He can score from the outside; take you off the dribble; run the pick-n-roll better than most point guards; score in the post; defend — and those chase-down blocks! He has it all, and he does it all while being incredibly unselfish and efficient.
However, as a Jazz fan, I absolutely loathe Gordon Hayward from a P.R. and decision-making standpoint. He couldn’t have handled this decision any worse. Yes, I would have preferred that he hold a prime-time interview on cable television and thrown a very public after-party in the wake of his decision, boasting that he was going to bring not one, two, or three championships to Boston. I would have preferred the entire Celtics team to come to his home and lock him inside to prevent him from signing with a different team.
We all know how it went down, and Jazz fans won’t forget. Chris Haynes leaked that Gordon was heading for Boston before Gordon could announce it. I was gutted. All Jazz fans were gutted. We were all so confident he was going to stay. He had the perfect role for this team. He was a family man who fit-in with the Salt Lake crowd. We thought he enjoyed it here. The Jazz catered to him by trading for Rubio and signing Joe Ingles. The young guys on the roster were developing, and the Jazz drafted a promising guard in Donovan Mitchell. Everything was in place for the Jazz to win 60 games this year. If anyone was going to challenge the Warriors in the west, it was going to be the Jazz with Gordon Hayward.
Then, reports coming from Gordon’s camp said he hadn’t made his decision after all. He was still undecided, and “had changed his mind four times within the last four days.” This was great news for all of us Jazz fans. The Jazz president Steve Starks even bought into it. WE STILL HAD A CHANCE! And we hung on to that for the next five hours. But, we didn’t have a chance. We never did. Gordon’s camp wanted to control the message because he couldn’t be that guy who didn’t tell his team he was leaving them in dust before it was leaked to the media. So, Gordon’s PR team back-tracked to put the dagger in the back of Jazz fans one more time so we could hear the message from himself. Thanks for that, Gordon. It felt so much better the second time around. I’m sure your Jazz teammates appreciated that, too. Especially because you didn’t have the courage to tell them yourself, let alone shout them out on your awesome blog post.
In hindsight, Gordon knew all along he was leaving for Boston. The signs were there — we chose to ignore them. He didn’t get emotional in his post-game interviews this year because he was caught up in the moment after winning a big game. He was emotional because he knew how much it was going to hurt the fans to leave this franchise with nothing. At the time, though, he probably didn’t realize he’d be doing it to us twice.
Maybe as Jazz fans we deserved this. Many of us booed him on draft night because, “It was the stereotypical Jazz drafting another white guy.” We never appreciated him while he was maturing here, “We could have drafted Paul George!” He was forced to play with Trey Burke, Raul Neto, and a developing Dante Exum — hardly point guards that would compliment his game. Jazz management didn’t even value him enough to offer the max on his last contract when it was clear he was going to get it. He was forced to get an offer from Charlotte and bring it back to the Jazz like a dog fetching a stick — only the stick was a 4 year, 60-something million dollar contract. It’s just business, right? Only it wasn’t. It was personal, and Gordon had his revenge.
After all, Gordon earned the right to make this decision. He’s human. He didn’t owe Jazz fans, or the organization anything. As painful as it might be, I will still support him in Boston because I’m a fan of basketball and Gordon’s game. But, as a Jazz fan — how it all played out — it is personal and borderline unforgivable.