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NBA Injury Comebacks: Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward is an elite mid-range shooter with veteran craft, size, and strength on hand, Gordon Hayward is the trigger for Charlotte's impressive half-court offense.  Here we look at the Injury Comeback of Gordon Hayward.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 12.10.2022
NBA Injury Comebacks Gordon Hayward

The NBA is all about the loyalty of its fans, the sheer talent of its players, and the ferocity of the various teams that actively compete. 

Nowadays, there are more skilled athletes entering and playing in the league than ever before. But with this level of skill comes a fiery and determined playing style that can often result in pro players being injured. 

Charlotte Hornets’ forward Gordon Hayward is no exception.

Hayward has a rare skill set that sees him excel at anything from rebounds to shooting. But it was his 2017 injury and his subsequent comeback to full strength that saw him destined for NBA history books.

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Who Is Gordon Hayward?

Before we discuss the injury that Hayward sustained, we want to talk a little bit more about him as a player.

An elite mid-range shooter with veteran craft, size, and strength on hand, Gordon Hayward is the trigger for Charlotte's impressive half-court offense. He’s also the greatest isolation scorer currently on the roster.

He can rebound, act as a secondary playmaker, score, and play quality defense. This high-risk playing style produces high rewards, and can often be deceiving as he does things so effortlessly. 

Hayward has also always been an extremely reliable shooter and passer. Not only does he play a crucial role in making decisions to better Charlotte's offense but he also takes on the position of a veteran mentor for newer players.

Professional Career


He accepted an offer of a scholarship from Butler University, despite late interest from Purdue and Michigan, and was coached by Brad Stevens.

He achieved many awards during his freshman year and was selected to the Horizon League First Team. as a sophomore, he averages 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

After leading the Butler Bulldogs to the championship game in the 2010 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, and eventually losing to Duke, Hayward opted to forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

NBA Draft: Utah Jazz

After hiring agent Mark Bartelstein, Hayward had his big break in June 2010.

The Utah Jazz subsequently selected him as the ninth overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft.

Hayward played seven amazing seasons with the Jazz, including three breakout seasons (2013-2016) where he quickly emerged as the new offensive threat. 

He scored many career highs with the team including a 37-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was also selected for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.

Boston Celtics 

Hayward signed on as a free agent with the Boston Celtics in July 2017 and everything looked set in stone for the 2017-18 season. 

However, Hayward was almost immediately ruled out for the remainder of this first season after suffering a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia during the team's opening game. We’ll discuss more on this below.

Fortunately, he eventually recovered and went on to play two more additional seasons with the franchise before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in November 2020 in a sign-and-trade agreement where he remains to this day.


Gordon Hayward’s comeback from his injury is arguably one of the greatest stories in Boston Celtics’ history. This is extremely fortunate considering the grave severity of it.

Only minutes into his first game with the Celtics in 2017, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the talented forward suffered a gruesome injury. After going up for a pass and colliding with Lakers legend LeBron James, his leg was twisted underneath him as he was returning to the floor. 

He landed awkwardly on his feet and collapsed directly under the basket, looking on in horror as his left foot was pointing outwards. It was quickly relocated on the court and was then placed in an air cast. It would later be confirmed as a broken ankle.


Gordon Hayward underwent serious surgery to fix his fractured tibia and stabilize his ankle the day after the injury. 

It seems like he was upgraded to a non-weight-bearing status, a big reason why he used a scooter for the initial recovery period. Around a month later he transitioned to a walking boot and crutches.

Hayward had made considerable progress over the following months until it was revealed that he required a second surgery in March 2018. 

NBA Comeback

Hayward made his NBA comeback in October 2018 in his first regular season game since sustaining his ankle injury.

He was used sparingly and starred in only 17 games throughout the season. But this is a small price to pay after recovering from such a devastating injury!

Without Hayward and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Celtics were only one win away from the 2018 NBA Finals. Had Hayward and Irving been present, things may have ended a lot differently.

What’s Next?

We can safely say that Gordon Hayward made one of the NBA’s greatest all-time injury comebacks!

Despite struggling with ankle pain now and then, Hayward makes an exceptional addition to the Hornets. Going into the 2022-23 season, he looks set for extreme success with the team!

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