BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics overcame nearly all the odds last season and made a surprising run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Doing so without injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving made it quite the ride for Boston basketball fans. It’s inspire a whole lot of hype for the upcoming season, especially with a healthy Hayward and Irving joining Boston’s stable of young stars.
But as the Celtics rattled off their 55 victories in the regular season, and postseason win after postseason win, Hayward couldn’t help but feel something funny. He enjoyed the success his teammates were having without him on the floor, but at the same time, he kind of wanted them to lose.
“I don’t think you’d be human if there wasn’t a part of you that like, ‘I hope that we lose,'” Hayward told Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take. “That happened at the very beginning of the season; I got hurt, we lost our first two games but then we went on a -game win streak. I was laying in bed and there was part of me that was like ‘they’re winning without me, what’s the deal?’ The another side is like ‘OK, this is why I came to Boston. We’re going to be good and have a chance to win the whole thing.’ You’re rooting for them, knowing these are your teammates. You have two conflicting things going on at the same time. If you didn’t think that, I don’t think you’re human. You’re a natural competitor and they’re doing well without you. But like I said, that’s why I came to Boston.”
Hayward is now back from the devastating ankle injury he suffered on opening night last season, eager to make an impact on a team with championship aspirations. The silver lining of him and Irving missing time last year was the experience that Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier gained in their absence.
“You can’t teach experience. I was hurt most of the year and then Kyrie went down, which puts a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, which is amazing for our team,” he said. “This is going to be my ninth year, but I’ve only been to the playoffs [twice]. I’ve only had a major role once. They’re going into their second year and have an Easter Conference Final. Brad [Stevens] will put us, not to be a cliché, but in positions to be successful and we’ll make it work.”
Hayward said he is close to 100 percent in his recovery, though he still has to get back into the flow of game action. His extensive chat with the Barstool gang is a must-listen for Celtics and NBA fans (it start’s around the 39-minute mark), as he touches on his decision to come to Boston, his time with Stevens at Butler, and his “Daddy’s Always Happy” fiasco over the offseason.
Hayward and the Celtics begin their preseason slate on Friday against the Hornets in North Carolina, and will tip off the 2018-19 NBA season Oct. 16 against the Philadelphia 76ers.