Gordon Hayward has delivered a massage to Bolton Celtics fans prior to their home opener.
The 27-year-old broke his left ankle just five minutes into the season, a grisly injury that overshadowed Kyrie Irving’s return to Cleveland and the Cavaliers’ 102-99 win over the shocked Celtics on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old sat up, looked at his foot and yelled in pain while some players covered their mouths and others turned their heads.
Hayward’s stunning injury changed the tenor of the highly anticipated season opener between two of the league’s best teams, and will likely alter the direction of Boston’s season. Hayward will require surgery and may need months to recover although Celtics coach Brad Stevens did not estimate when he might return after the surgery schedule to be on Wednesday.
It was Gordon’s NBA debut for the Celtics who he joined from Utah Jazz in a deal reportedly worth about $128m (£97m).
He spoke from his hospital bed where he is reportedly waiting to undergo surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured left tibia.
“I’m going to be all right,”
“It hurt me that I can’t be there at the home opener, I want nothing more than to be with my team-mates and walk out on that floor tonight, but I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Go kill it tonight.” Hayward said.
LeBron James scored 29 points – 13 in the fourth quarter – in his most extensive action in three weeks because of a sprained left ankle. He also fed Kevin Love for a critical three-pointer with 46.3 seconds left to put the Cavs up 102-98.
Irving, who asked to be traded this summer after six seasons in Cleveland, had a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer at the horn but missed. Irving then shared a warm embrace with James, his teammate for three seasons after the game.