No, I don’t regret anything. I unfortunately got injured, but happy to be here in Boston and happy to be a part of this team. —Gordon Hayward
BOSTON — Roughly 20 minutes before tipoff, Gordon Hayward was spotted outside the hallway of Will McDonough Press Room at TD Garden in a green Boston Celtics hoodie.
For his former Utah Jazz teammates in town to face the C’s Friday, it’s still weird seeing him in the new threads.
“I ain’t never seen him wear green to be honest with you,” said Jazz forward Joe Ingles. “I saw him wear Jazz green but that was about it.”
Hayward appeared to be in good spirits, walking without a boot less than two months after his horrific left ankle injury, suffered on opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As he continues to recover from the injury, Hayward remains unapologetic about his decision to depart Salt Lake City for Boston in the offseason.
“No, I don’t regret anything,” Hayward said. “I unfortunately got injured, but happy to be here in Boston and happy to be a part of this team.”
Hayward, Ingles, and Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant met for dinner Thursday when the team arrived in Beantown. Although Utah fans remain bitter about how Hayward announced his decision titled ‘Thank You, Utah’ in a letter to The Players’ Tribune on the Fourth of July, their bond remains intact.
He described their recent meeting as “just like old times.”
“Just caught up, talked a little bit about basketball, talked a lot about life,” Hayward said. “He’ll (Joe) will be a friend of mine as long as time, he’s a good buddy.”
“We had some food last night,” Ingles added during shootaround. “It’s good to catch up with him but obviously as of today, he’s on the other team and we want to smack them and they want to smack us. It’s going to be fun.”
It remains unclear on whether or not Hayward will return this season, but for now he’s focused on the rehabilitation process. He underwent surgery in October and continues to progress, especially without the boot.
“More mobility, so being able to walk around without as much help,” Hayward said. “I’m able to do a lot more stuff rehab wise like standing up, I don’t have to shoot in a chair anymore.
“Slowly but surely, I’ll keep adding to that,” he added. “Right now, I’m doing stuff with the bike, slowly progressing to using a little bit of both legs and then the next step is both legs running and all that stuff so we will get there.”
Hayward recently visited the Boys & Girls Club of Boston and was on his feet all day while interacting with children. His plan now is to start attending more games with the brace on his foot, but it’s hard for him to sit there without being able to assist the Eastern Conference’s top team.
“I don’t know that timetable to be honest because I’m just so focused on each day, each week,” Hayward said. “I know I just got in this so it’s probably a little while longer.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder and players are tired of answering questions about Hayward as that era has now passed, but the organization wishes him well. Boston will get a complete player when he’s back to being 100 percent on the floor, according to Snyder.
I mean, he was only an All-Star who led the team to 51 wins and the playoffs last season. Snyder knows a thing or two about the guy.
“Gordon was a heckuva player when he played for us,” Snyder said. “I think everybody understands the decision that he made, so to see him get hurt was hard. I felt horrible for him.
“I think most of the guys on the team reached out. I know I did,” he added. “I think he was appreciative of that. At this point, we wish him well in his rehab and hopefully he’s back soon but at the same time our group’s moved on, too. That’s separate from Gordon’s injury with respect to his injury, everybody feels for him and wants him to be healthy.”