Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, who sustained a horrific injury in the NBA season opener, sent a video message from his hospital bed before heading into surgery on Wednesday night, telling Boston fans: “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there.”
The crowd at the TD Garden for the Celtics’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks cheered when Marcus Smart directed fans’ attention to the scoreboard, where Hayward appeared wearing a hospital gown and sitting up in bed. The arena hushed to hear the brief message, then erupted in another cheer when it was over.
“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said in the 30-second message, which was also sent out by the team on Twitter.
Gordon Hayward has a message for Celtics Nation. pic.twitter.com/H6RHeGgios
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 18, 2017
“I’m going to be all right,” Hayward said. “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my team-mates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck.”
Celtics’ Gordon Hayward suffers horrific injury as Cavaliers win NBA opener
Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski he anticipates that his client will miss the rest of the season. “We expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form,” Bartelstein said.
After signing with Boston in the offseason as a free agent, Hayward was injured in the sixth minute of his first game for the Celtics, crumpling to the floor on Tuesday in Cleveland with a gruesome ankle injury. Players on both teams reacted in horror at the site of Hayward’s leg bent unnaturally, but coach Brad Stevens said he did not see the injury live and has avoided watching replays.
“Having known him as long as I’ve known him, it’s tough to see him go through this,” said Stevens, who was also Hayward’s college coach at Butler. “We’ll make sure he knows that we’ve got our arms around him.”
Stevens said that doctors diagnosed Hayward with a dislocated left ankle and broken tibia. After Wednesday’s game, which the Celtics lost 108-100 to fall to 0-2, Stevens said Hayward was headed into surgery as the game was tipping off.
“It’s definitely been tough,” said Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. “We’re just keeping Gordon in our prayers, hoping everything is all right.”