It’s been a difficult road to recovery for Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics. Last season, about five minutes into his Celtics debut he suffered a season-ending injury. Now, almost a year later, the Boston star is getting back into basketball.
Hayward’s difficult in coming back to basketball lies not only in recovering from his injury but recovering from his multiple surgeries as well. His first one, after the injury, left him with metal screws and a metal plate in his ankle. He thought that this would be the end of it. But come May he found himself back on the operating table. This next surgery would remove the metal plate and screws from his body.
Any athlete who has undergone surgery can tell you that it is not an easy recovery process. First of all, your body is injured in the first place. But then the surgery is like a second injury on top of that. Hayward has now had to go through his initial injury and two subsequent surgeries. It’s amazing that he’s ready to go for the season.
Hayward’s First Test
A couple months ago Hayward had his first taste of life back on the court. At a high school in Los Angeles, Hayward squared off against Bradley Beal in a game of one-on-one. In attendance were trainers, scouts, and players, all there to see how the star would fair against some real competition.
Hayward was behind on his timeline. When he lined up to play one-on-one with Beal, he was supposed to be ready for real five-on-five scrimmages. But with the unexpected second surgery, he just wasn’t there yet.
The game started slowly with both players only allowed to dribble twice per possession. As Hayward got more comfortable the pair moved out from the paint to the perimeter and each were allowed three dribbles per possession.
Hayward and those watching were pleasantly surprised. He looked like a guy who had been playing all year, not someone who had been out for a season and had just undergone surgery and few months prior. The only issue? Beal might have to work on his game.
Hayward’s Mental State
Getting injured can take a metal toll on a player. Not getting to play the game he loves and excels at is tough for a star like Hayward. Even worse is the fear of not being able to return to basketball. It is true, of course, that some guys don’t return from injuries. One shattered ankle can end a career.
Then there’s the possibility that you make it back on the floor but can’t perform the way you want to. This was certainly a fear for Hayward. But his one-on-one game against Beal has given him some confidence. He wasn’t sure what would happen and was thrilled with the outcome of the game. This seems to have helped him somewhat going into the preseason. That being said, we haven’t yet seen the pre-injury Hayward.
Hayward is not off to a good start in terms of shooting. He is only five of 20 from the field. It is assumed that these numbers won’t continue but it isn’t encouraging that Hayward is not looking like himself. On top of his poor shooting performance is the fact that he’s committed eight fouls in his 59 minutes of play.
Hayward’s Take On Coming Back
Hayward is a seasoned pro and understands the process of coming back from an injury. Getting physically better is difficult but the mental side can be harder. According the Hayward he feels fine in terms of his ankle. But he can’t seem to find his rhythm on the court.
He’s been out for a year and hasn’t had the benefit of practice over the summer. The hope was that he would get back into five-on-five over the summer and be ready for the preseason. As it has happened, he’s doing the work now that he hoped to be doing over the summer. So it’s no surprise that he’s rusty and taking a long time to ease back in.
But Hayward is pro, and a star at that. It’s hard to imagine him being held back for long.