Born in Indianapolis and raised in the small town of Brownsburg just outside of Indiana’s capital, Gordon Hayward grew up loving basketball in a state that embraces the sport above all others.
Around the age of five —before he could even write—Gordon sat down with the help of his father Gordon Sr. and recorded his goal of playing in the NBA.
Little did they know that the kid from the Hoosier State would end up writing something of a Hoosiers story of his own.
Gordon went on to star in high school, where, aided by a senior year growth spurt that saw a young man from two parents measuring at 5’10” shoot up to 6’8”, he led Brownsburg High School to a state title with a buzzer-beater in the championship game. He stayed at home for college, where he shined for the Butler Bulldogs, inexplicably almost duplicating his high school feat when he tossed up a prayer at the buzzer in the National Championship Game against top-ranked Duke that nearly gave the cinderella Bulldogs a title of their own. That heave may have missed the mark, but Gordon hasn’t ever since.
He made the very difficult decision to leave college for the NBA after his sophomore season and after Butler’s tournament run was a consensus lottery pick, eventually being selected by the Utah Jazz with the ninth pick in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, making him the first Butler Bulldog taken in the first round.
As Gordon shook then NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand, checking off the ultimate goal from the list he made before he could even write, he told reporters it was time to make a new list.
“I’m excited, I’m very excited,” he said. “I had that checklist growing up and now I need to make a new one. I’m excited to get to work.”
That work paid off in a big way. Early in Gordon’s time in Utah, the Jazz underwent a makeover. A fringe playoff team when he arrived, they soon traded star point guard Deron Williams. The next several years were a grind, but each year No. 20 got better. By his fourth season, he led the Jazz in scoring with 16.2 points per game. He continued to raise his numbers across the board every season and during his seventh season in the league in 2016-17, he was selected as an All-Star reserve.
That year he also got the Jazz back in the playoffs for the first time in five years. Not only that, he also helped push them to the second round with a seven-game series win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Though the Jazz were swept by the eventual Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors in the next round, G was proud of the steps he and his teammates had taken.
“We’ve been through some pretty hard downs,” G-Time said after the Game 7 win. “It definitely feels really good to go from 25 wins to where we were this year making the playoffs, winning a series.”
However, that was all for Gordon’s time in Utah. An unrestricted free agent after the season, for the first time, he weighed his options between returning to Salt Lake, heading to Miami or shipping up to Boston. Eventually, he decided to join the 16-time NBA Champion Celtics.
“My meetings with all three teams during this process — Miami, Boston and Utah — were just unbelievable. They couldn’t have been more impressive. Each meeting left me convinced that the team I’d just met with was the right fit,” said Gordon’s announcement in The Players Tribune. “After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics.”
But while Gordon’s arrival in Boston was marked by pomp and circumstance, his debut season with the Celtics lasted just six minutes before a gruesome injury changed the course of his career.
In a freak accident, Gordon landed awkwardly on an alley-oop attempt in his Boston debut and suffered a devastating leg injury. He went on to miss the rest of that first season with the Celtics due to the injury while undergoing multiple surgeries to repair the damage.
No. 20 returned in time for the 18-19 season and did his best to help the Celtics in any way he could, playing multiple roles throughout the season, including a spell off the bench that gave Boston a much-needed jolt. Although the season didn’t end the way Gordon or the Celtics had hoped, there is still so much in front of this team and Gordon when looking ahead to the future. Gordon’s play in the 2018-19 season earned him the NBPA Comeback Player of the Year award.
Going into the 2019-20 season with a full season under his belt since his injury, Gordon knew exactly what he was capable of doing on the floor.
The offseason saw plenty of change to Boston’s roster, but with Gordon now paired with point guard Kemba Walker, and young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown hitting their stride, a talented Celtics’ roster has its sights sets on reclaiming the Eastern Conference and capturing the franchise’s 18th championship banner.
Now a father of three, with a fourth on the way, married to a fellow Indianan Gordon Hayward’s career is just getting started and he’s confident the best is yet to come.