Gordon Hayward is like the rest of us.
He’s taking care of his three girls and pregnant wife, shaving his customary beard and waiting for word on when or if the NBA season will resume.
Hayward was the latest Celtic to speak with the media Friday. Like most NBA players, he is uncertain whether the league will resume this season, but has used the down time to heal from a nagging injury and get quality family time.
“It is a lot of time with the family here, no road trips or leaving to go to basketball games,” he said. “I think just being able to be with them more and take advantage of that time. We haven’t done anything too much different. We’ve just done more of everything.”
The Celtics were in Milwaukee when the NBA season was suspended March 11. Two Jazz players — Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — tested positive for COVID-19 and the Celtics had played the Utah Jazz twice in the previous two weeks.
Celtics team and staff returned to Boston and tested for the virus March 14. Only guard Marcus Smart, who has since been cleared, tested positive.
Testing negative was a relief for Hayward.
“I think everyone was a little bit scared at the time because of the uncertainty and not knowing exactly what’s going on and because we had played the Jazz and Rudy was somebody who had tested positive,” Hayward said. “Just with my wife being pregnant, we were concerned about the whole thing and we didn’t want her to get the virus because of the baby and we didn’t know what could exactly happen with that. We were just very cautious with everything.”
Hayward acknowledged the testing process and the waiting period were difficult. Celtics players got their results four to five days later.
“It was a little nerve-wracking but certainly a relief to be negative,” he said. “And then it was something ‘we’re OK as long as we stay in our bubble here and take care of everything we need to take care of to stay safe.’
“Everybody in the world has people that they’re connected to that has gotten the virus and have somebody been put on life support and taken to the hospital. That’s sad. That’s heart-breaking.”
Hayward had lingering knee and foot injuries that have been allowed to heal with the month off. But NBA players aren’t allowed into practice facilities or have access to medical supplies or exercise machines. Celtics trainers are sending home workout programs to players.
“That’s one positive from this whole thing is everybody’s been able to recover,” Hayward said. “We haven’t been able to do much so hopefully everyone is healthy whenever and if ever we get back this year. The only issue is we haven’t been able to do treatment, so it’s just been time that’s been healing everything. Sometimes you need a little bit of treatment. This has been good for everybody’s body.”
One of those throwback games being shown recently was the 2010 NCAA title game between Hayward’s Butler team, coached by Brad Stevens, and Duke. Hayward had the final shot of the game, a half-court heave that banked off the glass, hit the rim and caromed away. Butler lost, 61-59.
Former Butler teammate Ronald Nored arranged a Zoom conference call with that team and Hayward said he was able to see some of his former teammates for the first time since the days after that national championship game. Hayward was drafted by the Jazz two months later.
Robyn Hayward had never seen that title game and the two watched recently, but the telecast was cut off by an announcement from President Trump with three minutes left. The game resumed with the Duke postgame celebration, skipping over Hayward’s final shot.
“My life hasn’t stopped since then, since leaving for the NBA so I really haven’t had any time to reminisce or think about it because I’ve been on to the next thing,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget, those moments.”
When will the NBA resume? Will the NBA resume? There is a talk of the season resuming in Las Vegas. Commissioner Adam Silver said the league won’t make a decision until at least May 1.
“Whatever scenario they come up with, it’s going to be something I don’t think any of us players have dealt with before, whether it be everybody in Vegas or another location,” he said. “Playing with no fans would be pretty wild. It would be almost like a scrimmage at training camp. Home-court advantage is pretty much thrown out the window at that time. Whatever it is, it’s going to be completely different and really interesting to see how it all plays out.”
Hayward said it’s going to take considerable time for players to get back in true basketball shape before resuming the season.
“Just from a safety standpoint, I’m guessing two to three weeks of playing and being able to run full court and jump and play basketball before you could see anybody putting themselves at risk of getting injured,” he said. “This is all new to everybody so that’s something that has to be taken into consideration is the health of the players and not putting people at risk by not rushing the season back.”