Utah Jazz Editorial: Three Observations from the Woj Podcast with Gordon Hayward

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 8: Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 8: Gordon Hayward /
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MAY 8: Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MAY 8: Gordon Hayward /

Hayward missed yet another opportunity to praise teammates

After Gordon Hayward released his Players’ Tribune piece entitled “Thank You, Utah”, Jazz fans were quick to pass judgement. Some of the comments made and opinions expressed were warranted while others were…well…not so much. However, one of the criticisms that many fans brought up that I did in fact believe was fair was the fact that Hayward didn’t have even a single mention in his letter about any of his current teammates.

He talked rather expansively about former teammate and NBA washout Jeremy Evans, but didn’t drop one single word about Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors or Joe Ingles – guys he did battle with for a number of years and even won a playoff series with. Now, in his defense, there was no plausible way that he could have said everything going through his mind and heart in his letter, so it’s understandable that it wouldn’t necessarily be all-encompassing.

However, I will say that forgetting to mention the guys in the trenches seems like quite the blatant oversight. Still, even I figured that it could have very well been just that. Perhaps it was nothing more than something he happened to leave out of his farewell letter even though those guys were extremely important and meaningful to him.

However, based on one moment that significantly stood out to me in the podcast conversation, I’m truly wondering if their absence from the letter very well could have been done intentionally.

There’s almost no doubt that Hayward at least had caught wind of the accusation that he had slighted his teammates in the letter and if he had done so accidentally or felt even the least bit inclined to reverse that perception, it would seem that the podcast would have been the perfect platform to do so and redeem himself somewhat in that aspect. Not only that, but at one point in the podcast, Woj even set Hayward up perfectly to give his teammates some well-deserved praise.

Obviously I’m paraphrasing here, but when talking about the Utah Jazz free agent meeting in San Diego, Woj flat out asked Hayward if seeing his teammates show up in his house was an emotional moment for him. I thought for sure that at that point in time he was going to finally heap the praise on them that they deserved for being such an incredible supporting cast for him.

But instead, he changed the subject almost entirely, seemingly dodging the question and instead going on to discuss how the most emotional part was by no means when his teammates showed up, but rather when Greg Miller talked to him about finally bringing a championship to Utah.

Again, in Hayward’s defense, I believe one hundred percent that that conversation was likely the most emotional part of the meeting. How could it not be? Nevertheless, it seemed almost purposeful the way he dodged the question about his teammates and directed the conversation elsewhere. He literally had the ideal moment to make up for a perceived mistake from his letter and talk about his teammates, but instead he let it slide by.

And that quite truthfully makes me wonder if perhaps there was a disconnect with his teammates. Maybe there wasn’t the closeness in the locker room that we would’ve liked to think. Maybe in some ways Gordon didn’t feel like he fit in with that roster.

In his credit, he did mention that he thought Rudy Gobert was deserving of the Defensive Player of the Year Award and alluded to his friendship with Joe Ingles, but it still felt like more thanks were in order. Even though Hayward’s decision was his to make, I thought that he could have at least expressed somewhat more appreciation for those guys and shown some hint of regret for leaving them behind.

Instead, Hayward only furthered the hypothesis that perhaps he wasn’t all that close with his Utah Jazz teammates after all, despite all that they went through together.