Coming into the 2017/18 NBA season, Boston fans had every reason to be giddy about their chances to challenge the best teams in the league for championship glory. Key off-season acquisitions Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward looked set to lead a youthful core deep into the post-season.
Brooklyn fans looked destined for another long season, however for the first time in a long time had reason for optimism. They finally parted ways with Brook Lopez and his $22 million contract and in return got a young talented point guard in D’Angelo Russell to pair in the backcourt with their cult hero guard Jeremy Lin. Fast forward two days into the season and both team’s fortunes have drastically changed.
Gordon Hayward’s injury
Hayward was selected by the Utah Jazz with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. After playing seven seasons in Salt Lake City, the 27-year-old blossomed into a star of the NBA and earned his first All-Star appearance last season in a loaded Western Conference.
In the off-season he became an unrestricted free agent and sought greener pastures with the Boston Celtics. Following the addition of Kyrie Irving a month later, the Celtics were set for another Eastern Conference Finals appearance against Cleveland.
In their season opener against Cleveland, Celtics fans got to see their new look lineup together for less than six minutes. It was supposed to be a sight to get used to; Kyrie Irving throwing up alley-oop passes for Hayward to finish off. However, on their first attempt they couldn’t connect and Hayward landed badly on his left leg fracturing his fibula and dislocating his ankle.
The stadium fell silent and players from both sides looked visibly distraught as the aftermath showed his foot at a near right angle to the rest of his leg. The worst fears were confirmed the next day as Hayward was ruled out for the entire season.