I’m not sure if you knew this, but former Butler star Gordon Hayward is sort of a big deal in Indiana. There were more Hayward shirts and jerseys being worn throughout Conseco Fieldhouse during tonight’s Pacers/Jazz game than I presumed were ever manufactured. And when he checked in to the game for the first time, Hoosiers went nuts. Throughout the game, mMany of the loudest ovations from the crowd, which had to be one of the largest so far this year, came from Hayward-related events.
At one point, he made a move with the ball, and it looked like he got fouled taking a shot but he actually traveled before the foul so it resulted in a Jazz turnover. Conseco erupted. My response to that on Twitter at the time was this: “Hayward travels. Conseco erupts. I’m not sure why. Not sure they knew why either.”
But there was one highlight for which the rationale behind the ensuing bedlam was unmistakable. Gordon Hayward got the ball in transition and pushed it up the court. It looked like Dahntay Jones would slow him down, but that did not happen even remotely. (And why would it? It’s not like things like that are the only thing Dahntay gets paid to do or anything.) So Hayward was free to attack the rim. Hayward elevated. Paul George elevated. And just when I expected George to swat a cute little layup attempt into the third row, Hayward put him in a poster.
Conseco exploded — with Hayward’s parents cheering the loudest of all. (Note: I have no decibel-related science to back this up. It’s just bad sportswriting that you’re supposed to accept sans evidence, OK? Deal with it.)
I asked him after the game whether or not he and George knew each other or if this was, for Gordon, a great introduction. “We have the same agency, so I was able to meet him during the pre-draft stuff,” said Hayward. “We keep in touch a little bit and it’s good to see him.”
My follow-up was to ask him if he thought that maybe Paul George expected him to lay it up. “Yeah, he might have thought that. I dunno,” said Hayward. “He smiled afterwards and said a little something.”
I’m not Hayward, but if I was, my response to George saying “a little something” would have been, “don’t talk about it, be about it, bro.”* And then I would have dove into my Scrooge McDunk money pit that I created the day I after I got a guaranteed $4.9 million NBA contract for being picked 9th overall in last summer’s draft.
* I would never say that. (video via @outsidethenba)