Gordon Hayward Was 'Dreading a Little' the 'Hoopla' Around His Return to Utah

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 10, 2018

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward sits on the bench during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Friday Nov. 9, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Despite playing a significant role in the Utah Jazz's resurgence, Gordon Hayward wasn't exactly looking forward to the attention his return to Salt Lake City would receive.

Following the Boston Celtics' 123-115 loss to the Jazz on Friday, Hayward said he was caught between feeling excitement and dread before playing at Vivint Smart Home Arena for the first time since leaving Utah.

"Something in between," Hayward said, via ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps. "More than anything, I was looking forward to seeing [people]. I spent seven years here, so I built some great relationships and was looking forward to seeing some of those people ... maybe dreading a little bit about just the hoopla of the whole thing."

Hayward spent the first seven years of his career with the Jazz. He led the team to a 51-31 record and a playoff appearance during his final season in 2016-17 before signing a four-year, $127.8 million deal with the Celtics.

Fans in Utah made sure Hayward was aware they didn't take too kindly to his departure by showering him with boos each time he touched the ball.

Hayward had an extended wait for the moment after he missed essentially all of last season because of a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle he suffered in the first quarter of the opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The long-awaited return didn't end with the result Hayward wanted. He struggled in defeat, scoring 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting to go with seven assists.

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