Gordon Hayward is officially a member of the Boston Celtics.
This past week Gordon had his first press conference via phone with the Boston media and formally signed with the C’s. The Brownsburg, Ind. native expressed his feelings about the recruitment meetings, head coach Brad Stevens and his new teammates—and what it means to join one of the most storied franchises in all of sports.
“There was just something different about Boston and different about being a Celtic and it was a special feeling when talking about being a Boston Celtic that ultimately won me over,” Gordon said.
On July 4, the day Gordon made his decision, there was an early report saying he was choosing Boston well before he had actually made up his mind and published an essay on The Players’ Tribune thanking Utah. The Butler Bulldog shared his perspective on that difficult day.
“I was pretty upset that happened,” Hayward said. “I didn’t feel like I was ready to say I feel like being a Boston Celtic. I had to step away from that and regroup and we talked about it more and more and finally we put out the article. There were a lot of reports with people saying we were finishing up the article for the Tribune, which is just completely false. I had a ghostwriter I was talking with throughout the course of my visits so I was sharing my thoughts the whole time. Once I finally made my decision, it was like five minutes and we finished it up and I was ready to go. It was a crazy day. I was bummed how it happened, but in this day and age, that type of stuff sometimes goes on and there’s not much you can do about it.”
With a difficult free agency in the past, No. 20 now looks forward to a new chapter in Boston, including the opportunity to team up with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford in the Eastern Conference.
“The fact that IT and Al were both present during the meeting, I’m thrilled to get a chance to play with those guys,” he said. “They did a hell of a job last year and got to the Eastern Conference Finals and were number one seed in the East so I’m a huge fan of their basketball games number one, but number two get a chance to meet them more on a personal level and hang out with them. We went out to breakfast with Al and went out to dinner with Isaiah and his wife so I’m more than ecstatic to play with those guys, I think it’s gonna be a great fit and we complement each other extremely well.”
Of course during a meeting with the Celtics, general manager Danny Ainge and Stevens, his college coach at Butler, also sold Gordon on what he can bring to the court for the Celtics next season.
“Being a playmaker, make some plays to get other people shots to help us spread the attack around. I think I’m a versatile player offensively and defensively and I think that’ll help us to have guys that can play multiple different positions,” G-Time explained. “I can start the offense and play with the ball or without the ball and Brad has talked a lot about that and using the guys we have on the roster in different ways. He’s a genius when it comes to that stuff both offensively and defensively so I couldn’t be more excited with the guys that we have on the team and I’m ready to get to practice already and start learning and competing with these guys.”
Not only did Gordon receive a clear message about what he could do in a Celtics uniform, but he also received it from a man he trusts greatly in Stevens. The fifth-year Celtics coach recruited a younger, skinnier Hayward out of Brownsburg a decade ago, and the two made magic at the small Indianapolis college. After accepting Stevens’ recruiting pitch a second time, he reflected on the first.
“I remember telling my parents I needed to get texting on my flip phone because college coaches were starting to text me so it’s definitely different in that regard,” Gordon recalled. “But like I said, as soon as you get off the terminal it’s just instant familiarity, a comfort level with Brad and what he does and how he goes about things. It was easy, it was really easy.”
Now, Gordon and Stevens look forward on what they can accomplish together a second time—hopefully raising Banner 18 in the TD Garden rafters.
“That’s our goal, that’s something that I’m working on right now so I can be a better player so I can help the Boston Celtics get that accomplished. It’s something that I for sure think is attainable for us, I think there’s a lot of work for us to do but it’s something we’re striving for and I couldn’t be more excited about that.”