CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gordon Hayward was an 8-year-old living in Brownsburg, Ind., when the Peyton Manning Era began with the Indianapolis Colts.
Almost 14 years later, the professional basketball player and loyal Colts fan was bummed that one of his favorite athletes will no longer be playing for his favorite football team.
"It's definitely a sad day in Indianapolis," Hayward said. "Peyton's been like the face of the city for so long."
Hayward recalled how Manning led the Colts to Super Bowls and won four NFL MVP awards, among many other milestones and accomplishments.
"In my opinion, one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best, to ever play," Hayward said. "Yeah, it's sad to see him go."
Hayward's moment of mourning was interrupted by a hopeful teammate two lockers over.
"It's a celebration for the Chiefs. There's a chance, baby," a smiling Earl Watson said. "Thanks, G. We appreciate you, baby."
"I hope he goes to the Chiefs, because Earl wants him there," Hayward graciously said.
A fan of all things Kansas City, Watson smiled and added, "We're due."
The veteran guard took a moment to rib Hayward some more.
"Loyalty's for everybody in Kansas City. We don't give you up. We don't," Watson said. "Len Dawson is still on TV. He's our news anchor guy for sports. We don't give up those people. George Brett is still in town. Know what I'm saying? We don't do that."
Unfortunately, Hayward understood why the Colts did. Manning had a massive bonus coming to him today had Indy kept him, and the NFL club figures to take Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick of the upcoming draft.
"I know it would have been tough for them to keep both him and whoever they pick number one," Hayward said. "You can't really pay both of your quarterbacks that much money and only play one of them."
Hayward thinks it's too bad the Colts couldn't at least get something in return for Manning, but that was curtailed by the $28 million bonus he would've been due.
Hayward doesn't envy the position Luck — or whoever — will find himself in this fall.
"Think about the pressure he's got on him. It's unbelievable," Hayward said. "To come in after Peyton? What if it doesn't work? Then everybody's just going to boo him."
Re-enter Watson into the conversation.
"Who was the point guard after Magic Johnson? Who knows, baby?" Watson said. "Seriously. Who was the shooting forward after Larry Bird? The two-guard after Michael Jordan? I can't tell you."
He can, however, tell you who he hopes the next Chiefs' QB will be.
FAMILY REUNION: Tyrone Corbin (Columbia, S.C.) and Josh Howard (Winston-Salem, N.C.) bought up more than 100 tickets so friends and family members could enjoy them in action Wednesday night.
Corbin even had the pleasure of coaching in front of his high school coach.
Howard said it wasn't a big deal to play in front of his close ones. After all, they can watch him on TV all the time and he played at Wake Forest in college.
Corbin was a bit more sentimental.
"It's always been special to come back," he said, referring both to his playing and coaching days. "It's always great to have them come out and see me work."
They even got to see the Jazz pick up their fifth road win of the season, a 99-93 victory over the Bobcats.
THIS AND THAT: Point guard Devin Harris played well and went for 24 minutes on a sprained right knee. He said it was "a little sore" but "not bad." … Hayward had about 25 Butler fans in the crowd cheering for him, and Alec Burks also had some Colorado alums in attendance. Both did meet-and-greets after the game. … The Jazz have camped out in North Carolina, spending a rare three nights in the Queen City. Utah will practice at UNC-Charlotte this morning before flying to Philadelphia.
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