Basketball bonds: Gordon Hayward's father has helped the Jazz player during every step of his career
Now you know where Utah's Gordon inherited his tendency to deferentially pass up shooting opportunities earlier in his career.
Another thing he got from his mom?
A cool-and-collected temperament.
Jody's favorite tennis player growing up was Bjorn Borg, a Swedish star known for being an emotionally steady and quiet champion — but also about as boring as that old van. One time as a kid, Borg threw a tantrum during a match. That didn't sit well with his mom, who locked up his tennis racquet in a cabinet and didn't let him play for a month.
"After that," Hayward said, "he just never had any emotion at all."
The Haywards' version of that story involved Gordon tossing his cap down in disgust while changing sides during a tennis match. Unhappy about her teenager's action, Jody gathered up her stuff, walked off and didn't come back. (Don’t tell anyone, but it's possible she watched the match from a distance.)
Parents were the only spectators, so Gordon saw her leave. He knew she was disappointed in his behavior. His dad, more of a John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors guy, said that experience "definitely had an impact" on Gordon's on-the-court comportment.
To wit, the Jazz shooting guard's demeanor during basketball games is similar to one of his favorite tennis players growing up — the unflappable Pete Sampras. Gordon didn't even realize he'd received the first technical of his life back in 2012 — for trying to get separation from then-Clipper Mo Williams, of all people — until he came to the Jazz bench and teammate Raja Bell told him, "There went two grand." He rarely bickers with refs, and he didn't even retaliate when Delonte West weirdly stuck a finger in his ear.
Going back to his slump last season, Jody wanted to step in and help restore her son's shooting confidence when he probably felt like throwing tennis racquets and caps because of his struggles.
Somewhat jokingly, his mom made this offer from Indiana: "I'll come out and help work with your shot."
Gordon's carefully worded response: "I'd love for you to come out."
He didn't mention the working-on-his-wayward-shot part.
Her husband joked with Jody, "You know you're not going out there to work with him on his shot."
She laughed. "I know."
Any excuse to visit your only son who lives 1,500 miles away, right?
Truth be known, Gordon and his mom would rather hang out, chat and watch Disney movies than fine-tune his shooting mechanics anyway.
Like his father, Gordon grew up playing a slew of sports. Basketball. Soccer. Baseball. Tennis. Video games. He even tried football as an 11-year-old.
"That was another whole story," Hayward recalled.
Here's why: Gordon was a "toothpick" (his dad's word) who played quarterback for a team that ran the option in a league of fifth- and sixth-graders.
"He got hit every single time," Hayward said. "You're either dropping back to pass or you're running or you're pitching. It doesn't matter, you're getting hit."
The problem with that, of course, is that toothpicks tend to snap rather easily.
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