SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward’s seven seasons with the Utah Jazz didn’t go in vain.
A surprise tweet from the Jazz’s official Twitter account hit timelines of all 876,000 followers ahead of tonight’s much-anticipated Utah Jazz-Boston Celtics matchup, where Hayward will return as a visitor for the first time.
The 21-second clip starts with former NBA commissioner David Stern introducing Hayward on draft night in 2010, followed by a series of Jazz highlights before ending with the caption “Welcome Back, Gordon.”
Hayward left Utah for Boston 16 months ago through free agency and missed last season’s Jazz-Celtics matchup while recovering from a season-ending ankle injury.
Celtics All-Star Kyrie Irving will also miss the action to attend his grandfather’s memorial service.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder says his team is approaching the game just like any other one, despite the ESPN broadcast and outside intensity among local fans surrounding Hayward’s return.
“I’ve said this a number of times, many times… myself personally, I think his teammates, the organization’s unbelievably appreciative of Gordon did here and what he put into our program,” Snyder said during shootaround. “Right, now my focus is strictly and completely on this team and our players so I hope you guys can respect that.
“That’s a long time ago and I wish Gordon the best,” he added. “It’s great to see him playing again.”
Hayward is averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists through the first 10 games of the season as the Celtics are 7-4.6 comments on this story
According to TickPick, the no-fee secondary ticket marketplace, tonight's Utah-Boston game has an average listing ticket price of $217. This is 48 percent higher than Utah's season average of $146.94. The "get-in" price for the game is $58.
"I have no idea," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said on what to expect from fans. "Pretty much the same way they've been all year for us. They're going to be loud, supportive and I don't know how the reaction is going to be towards Gordon but we'll see, but as a team we want to go out there and have fun, enjoy the game and try to get a win as a team."