There was a time people secretly rooted for the Jazz. They are a small market team with a great staff and seemingly great fans who poured their hearts into their young prospects…specifically, Gordon Hayward.
They watched this young buck grow from a gangling draft pick and into the man and All Star he’s become…only to have their hearts ripped out when he announced he was moving on to the Celtics in Free Agency.
As a fan, I totally get the heartbreak.
He opted out of his contract and pursued free agency. This move was a clear indication that he may not return as a Jazz. But the fans rallied…persisted that he stay. They put together money to buy #Stayward billboards. They unified to create videos pleading for him to stay. Teachers even had children write him letters on why he should never leave and how much they adored Hayward.
Beautiful right? Like something out of a movie? And in the happy Hollywood ending, he would stay. He’d be “loyal” to his fans who cheered for him all those years. He wouldn’t take the “easy” road. He’s better than that. Competitive. Our guy we rooted for will do everything it takes to win with the Jazz.
Because we own him.
We made him into what he is and screw him for leaving.
Or the “I don’t care that he left. It’s the way he left. The Jazz organization deserves better. The fans deserve better.
He’s dead to me.”
And let’s not forget the salty response article from local beat writer, Gordon Monson: Goodbye Gordon Hayward, whoever you are.
Apparently Gordon Hayward and other players are no more than objects to you. Owned. Someone you picked out of lineup. Someone who had no say in it whatsoever in the draft. Yes, they’re grateful to be chosen, but fans can forget they are also human beings with their own aspirations.
Your team…whatever team you represent…in the NBA has no problem selling/trading and/or dealing players like meat for their own team’s interest. But that’s okay. It’s just a business, right?
But the moment a player is finally free to make his own choices for his own personal aspirations for himself and his family…he got past the scary trades and has earned the right to get to choose for the first time where he wants to go…especially when he worked hard to become what he is…and has a short window to accomplish his goals and chooses the way where he feels he may most likely achieve those goals…he now becomes #betrayward.
You burn jerseys.
You turn on him as if he’s a bigger traitor than Benedict Arnold.
Because you never truly cared about him. The man or the player. You cared about yourselves. Your team. A team who would also trade any player at the drop of a hat if it was best for the team and the future as they saw fit.
And you all sit here spouting off about “loyalty” and “character”?
The one thing in Hayward’s Players’ Tribune piece that spoke to me about the kind of man Gordon Hayward is and respects…
“Coach Stevens was so great about it, all of it. He helped me lay out my options, and talked it through from both sides … but in the end, when I needed it, he also gave me my space. And he also let me know that it was my choice to make — and that he would be there for me, on the other side of it, either way.”
Let me repeat that for the Jazz fans who are particularly salty:
And he also let me know that it was my choice to make — and that he would be there for me, on the other side of it, either way.
And after the spectacle I’ve seen from Monson and even Jazz fans after their heartwarming pleas when they didn’t get the result they wanted…
I don’t blame Hayward for leaving and reuniting with a man who has proven to have his best interest at heart….either way.