BOSTON (CBS) — When Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving sat together in front of the media at TD Garden in the summer of 2017, some big things were supposed to begin in Boston. For a variety of reasons, those big things never quite panned out.
And when Hayward’s tenure with the Celtics unceremoniously ended with the player opting out of the final year of his contract in November, it concluded a three-year arc that could only be described as disappointing.READ MORE: Woman Hit And Killed After Getting Out Of Friend's Car On I-93 In Medford
Despite the way things played out, Hayward — now a very wealthy Charlotte Hornet — said he has no regrets regarding anything that’s happened in his career since deciding to sign with Boston.
“I have no regrets about anything that happened in Boston, and I really appreciate all the fan support — for supporting me through a wild ride of ups and downs,” Hayward said in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Hayward suffered a gruesome injury in his first game as a Celtic, and the All-Star duo of Hayward and Irving never got to flourish the way Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, or Celtics fans envisioned.
Hayward — who said he doesn’t keep in touch with Irving, aside from saying hello at games — explained that the way things played out is not really anybody’s fault.
“It’s unfortunate what happened because I don’t think we ever really got a chance to be the tandem that we wanted to be. I got injured right away, and then he got injured. Now, I’m trying to come back. We just didn’t get a chance for it to take off,” Hayward said. “Like I said earlier, I loved my time in Boston, the relationships I built. No regrets.”READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Hayward did have one regret, though, as he said he should not have played hurt during last year’s postseason in the Orlando bubble. Returning from an ankle injury suffered in the first game of the playoffs, Hayward averaged 10.5 points, 4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 30.7 minutes per game, shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range during the Celtics’ loss to Miami.
“I honestly shouldn’t have come back and played, but tried to play through it and wasn’t able to be myself, so I don’t think we had our full team there at the end. So it was disappointing, but not necessarily stuff that you can control,” Hayward said. “Injuries happen. Those types of things happen. But I had great experiences besides those things in Boston, built great relationships, still have good relationships with the coaches and some of the players there.”
As for leaving Boston, Hayward’s four-year, $128 million deal showed that he made the clear and obvious correct decision for his life and career. The 30-year-old father of four said that even after opting out, he hoped he might have been able to re-sign in Boston.
“Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too,” Hayward said when running through his free-agent options, which included the Hawks, Knicks, and Pacers.
Ultimately, the big money plus the opportunity offered by Charlotte sealed the deal.MORE NEWS: 'It's Panic': CareWell Urgent Care Patients Concerned 2nd Vaccine Doses Will Be Canceled
“As far as the basketball is concerned, I think the opportunity to go somewhere, get a fresh start, be in a position to try to maximize my potential as a basketball player, I think, going somewhere where I’d have the ability to try and help a franchise get to that next level, it grew on me more and more after talking to the coaching staff, talking to the front office, obviously talking with my agent and my wife and family,” Hayward told Amick. “That challenge kind of resonated with me.”