Staying in Utah seemed more like an obligation than a joy
It was natural for Utah Jazz fans to feel spurned when their All-Star decided to leave them for supposed greener pastures. However, although it’s unclear just when exactly Gordon Hayward one hundred percent settled on joining the Boston Celtics, I don’t believe the naysayers who claim that Hayward was lying about the decision being a difficult one. I have no doubt that at many times during the process he waffled back and forth as he weighed his different options and that parting with Utah wasn’t easy by any means.
However, after listening to the podcast, I don’t know that leaving Utah was exactly hard for him for the precise reasons that Jazz fans might have thought.
As he talked about his visits with both the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, he gave high praise to both organizations. He talked about them excitedly and you could almost feel his appeal to give them both a fair shake and perhaps go and play for them because of the new opportunities and challenges that they represented.
However, when he talked about Utah, there didn’t seem to be that same kind of excitement or anticipation for what they could accomplish together. In some ways this makes sense – both Boston and Miami were new and unfamiliar whereas Utah was the only home he had known in his NBA career.
Nevertheless, although fans might have hoped that he would have seen Utah as just as equally an incredible place to continue his career and take a team to new heights as the other two, the vibe that I got from the podcast was that the draw to stay in Utah had more the feel of an obligation than a joy. The decision to leave Utah was tough, but more so because there was some hint of expectation from people he was familiar with to stay there, and because in leaving he’d be struck with feelings of letting down people that cared about him.
Based on his comments, it seemed that Boston was the place that he wanted to play (which obviously we now know is the case) whereas Utah was simply the place that would be hard to leave behind, not necessarily the spot where in his heart he could see himself continuing his career.
At the end of the day, rather than stick with what felt like an obligation to an organization that had given him so much, and rather than dwelling on the thought of potentially disappointing so many of his supporters, he decided to follow his heart and cast those worries aside.
And quite frankly, he shouldn’t be criticized for that. I’m sure many of us have felt as if we’ve been in a similar situation – conflicted about leaving a certain job because of familiarity, good relationships and memories held there, but ultimately knowing that seizing a different opportunity elsewhere could help us get to a more enjoyable, profitable or fitting spot.
Of course, Hayward’s decision affected more people than you or I would with a typical career choice, and I don’t necessarily agree with Hayward’s decision and especially not with how he went about it, but the logic for making it as he did is certainly there.
It does, however, somewhat hurt to get the sense that not only was Boston his preferred destination, but in many ways Utah didn’t appear to be viewed as all that joyful of an option for him to begin with. While I’m certain the ultimate choice was a tough one, it definitely seems that leaving Utah was mainly hard for him because he was burning bridges with former close ties, not because he was truly concerned about what the team could have become had he stayed.