Gordon Hayward made his long-awaited return Tuesday night as the Boston Celtics tipped off the 2018-19 NBA season.
There was some obvious signs of rust, which was to be expected from a player who just missed an entire season. But Hayward was not timid and made the most of his 25 minutes on the floor, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and four steals in Boston’s 105-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Pregame jitters quickly melted away for Hayward, who was introduced in front of Boston fans for the first time since signing a max contract last offseason. A rousing ovation followed, a moment Hayward was sure to soak up. Last year at this time, he was addressing Celtics fans with a pre-taped video from a hospital bed. Tuesday night’s introduction was much, much better.
“It was everything I was expecting when I originally signed here. I had to wait a year for it, but they were amazing,” Hayward said of the Boston fans.