After the most incredible and exciting off-season ever, the NBA regular season opened last night and the question was whether October through June could live up to the adrenaline of June through September. And the answer is no. Not even close.
Yes, you had the energy of Kyrie’s return to Cleveland and the Warriors getting their rings, because Kevin Durant got the Rockets on a buzzer-beater, until replay revealed that he didn’t beat the buzzer. Rockets win. And you can cue all the fresh, “guess the Warriors aren’t as good as we thought” takes. Wrong. The only thing we learned from that game is that Golden State isn’t going 82-0. That’s it.
But as good as that game was, I’m just going to go ahead and declare last night to be the worst opening night in a long time. Not because nothing could live up to the hype of the offseason, although it’s true, nothing will be able to match that sugar rush. No, the night was ruined 5 minutes and 15 seconds into the season when Gordon Hayward went down with one of the nastiest injuries you’ll ever see. It’s so nasty, I know I never want to see it again and I’m not even sure I want to play it on the air. But in case you haven’t heard about it, here’s what happened.
(Viewer Discretion Advised)
Truly terrible. I legitimately yelled when I saw it happen and tried to change the channel, but I was so rattled, I couldn’t even work the remote.
And if you didn’t see it, here’s the description of the aftermath from Chris Mannix: “Hayward, swiveling his body toward the Cavaliers’ bench, his ankle fractured, his foot twisted nearly 120 degrees, hanging limply off his leg. Referee Monty McCutchen immediately signaled a timeout as Cavs players seated on the bench recoiled, leaped to their feet and raced off the floor.”
I don’t know how Hayward wasn’t screaming his lungs out after that. I assume it must have been shock. I know I was in shock and you could tell everyone else on the court and in the arena was too. The looks on the faces of Kyrie, LeBron, Al Horford, Tristan Thompson, and everyone else told the story. Shock. Horror. Nausea. I still can’t get that image out of my mind. I don’t think I ever will. It looked like dude put his foot on backwards. That grotesque. That troubling. That disgusting.
Kyrie said afterwards: “It’s tough. I’ve seen a few injuries in my career and I’ve had a few. Probably two of the worst ones I’ve been in the game watching — one was [George] at USA and this one tonight.”
LeBron said: “I’ve seen Paul George when it happened to Paul. I was watching the game with Shaun Livingston when it happened when he was with the Clippers. I was watching NCAA basketball when Kevin Ware was at Louisville. Those are the injuries that you never seen coming and you never want to happen, no matter who it is, no matter what the stature, no matter how much competitive nature that you have. It’s just very unfortunate.”
If your name is being mentioned with Paul George, Kevin Ware, and Shaun Livingston that’s terrible, terrible news.
George tweeted: God bless you bro @gordonhayward ! Help him thru this God!
Livingston tweeted three prayer emojis and “@gordonhayward. Only God has ALL the answers.”
Chandler Parsons, Karl Anthony Towns, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, the list of players and NBA teams who tweeted out love and support kept growing.
Just a horrible moment. And it’s hard to know what the worst part is: the injury itself, the freak nature of it, the fact that we didn’t even get six minutes of the Kyrie-Gordon Celtics before their season was over, the list goes on. The fact that the Celtics still managed to be competitive last night is remarkable, because I didn’t even think they’d want to watch the game anymore, let alone play in it.
That is the worst injury I’ve seen in a long time; and a reminder of just how fragile and fleeting everything is: this guy did everything in his power to get ready for this season; had never looked better or felt belt and it all gone blown up in five minutes. On a play that he’s probably executed hundreds if not thousands of times in his basketball life. Shaun Livington made it all the way back. As has Paul George and Hayward can too.
But I’d given anything to scrub that image from my mental hard drive, but that’s just not going to happen.