Yeah, breaking up with Gordon Hayward is hard to do.
Even though all of the telltale signs were present: A trusted friend from the past, coaching perhaps the most storied franchise in all of sports, wanting to rekindle a relationship. That’s okay. For Gordon Hayward to leave, he would have to be persuaded Boston can be as family friendly as Utah.
Enter the pride of Utah County, Danny Ainge, Celtics GM. It all aligned July 3, 2017. Gordon Hayward invited Grandma Gail and the rest of the Jazz brass to a public place, away from Salt Lake City, and said the four words anyone who ever loved is familiar with, “We need to talk.”
This wasn’t just a player signing with another team—it was a break-up.
The following day, July 4, Independence Day, was Hayward-watch for Jazz fans. He made his announcement. Utah was spurned. Gordon chose the Boston Celtics. Most fans entered standard break-up protocol, coincidentally similar to an Independence Day tradition: Get drunk and shove greasy food into your face.
Aside from the drunken fans though, there was an ugly reaction, #betrayward. Usher told us all how to get through post-break-up pain: “I gotta let it burn.” But too many fans took it too literally. Charcoal fluid and barbecue lighters were at hand on the Fourth and jilted lovers ripped their children’s Hayward jerseys from their closets and they did it—they let that shit burn.
As I mentioned, some of us took a few shots, and downed some watery American beer. For others, that option wasn’t possible and there’s no comfort at the bottom of a 64-ounce concoction of seven different sodas and syrups.
It’s time to move on. NBA fans are laughing at Utah’s extreme reactions in viral videos. Salt Lake sports pages are smeared with the tears of emotional columnists, (particularly the Trib’s savagely mocked Gordon Monson), who keep insisting the apocalypse has arrived.
Jazz fans, we got dumped by a grown man following his own aspirations, with every right to take another job.
Let’s remember the post-breakup process. Stay off his social media accounts, listen to Drake’s Take Care album top-to-bottom, cry in the shower and try your damnedest not call the object of your desire when you’re drunk.
Then bounce back. Always, always respect the process.
— Sam Mullen Warchol