The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NBA News: Celtics’ Gordon Hayward’s Injury Puts Him Out of the Game

Posted by on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017


So much hopefulness and nervous energy are bundled up in the first game of the NBA season. The Boston Celtics (ranked #1 in the Eastern Conference last season) faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers (ranked 9th). Maybe, from the Celtics’ standpoint, the game seemed like an easy opener. Although, in the offseason, the Cavaliers signed a new GM and traded Kyrie Irving (to the Celtics) in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowded, and Ante Zizic—so there was no telling how the new team would perform.

For 27-year-old small forward Gordon Hayward, who had just come over from the Utah Jazz, it was not the sort of debut he’d hoped for—starting and ending the season in one day with a fractured ankle.

Celtics' Gordon Hayward suffers injury
How will the Celtics fare following Gordon Hayward’s injury? Image Source: Wikimedia user Pkantz.

How was Gordon Hayward Injured?

In the air, it seemed like any other jump for the ball. Hayward had run this play dozens of times, effortlessly. A pass from Kyrie Irving sent Hayward looking for the alley-oop, but he faced opposition from LeBron James and Jae Crowder. Suddenly, Hayward found himself sandwiched between two star defensemen in mid-air. He had that split-second moment where he thought, “Oh no, I’m going to come down hard.” Of course, any forward has experienced this before, and usually, they are able to straighten themselves so they don’t land on anything.

This time, Hayward’s legs seemed to swing out beneath him, whipping his body down like a rag doll with one leg tangled beneath his body. “When I landed, it wasn’t a huge amount of pain,” he recalled. “Immediately, I knew something was off, but I rolled over and saw my foot, and it was pointed in completely the wrong direction.”

It seemed like forever by the time the training staff got to him, though, in reality, it was a matter of seconds. Coach Stevens says he didn’t see the injury happen in real-time—and he has not watched the injury on video. The Cavaliers’ doctor, Dr. Rosneck, explained that they wanted to try to pop the ankle back into place to get the foot in the right direction. “There was just a massive shot of pain, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Hayward.

From there, he was loaded onto a cart, with his leg throbbing and mind racing. After X-rays were taken, he was given Tylenol and put on the team plane wearing a small soft cast. He tried to get a few hours of rest in the hospital before the X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs in the morning.

Assessing Gordon Hayward’s Injury

Hayward’s exam revealed that he had fractured his ankle and torn ligaments, requiring surgery and putting him out for the entire season. The good news? Doctors are predicting a full recovery after surgery, even telling Hayward, “If you were going to have a horrific leg injury, this would be the one to have.”

The surgery had three parts. First, foot surgeons had to fix the bone. That was the “easy” part. Next, they had to fix the ligaments, a fairly standard procedure for a trained professional. The third part of the surgery was trickier and harder to predict. A small blip on the scans indicated potential cartilage damage. There was no way to confirm or deny it until the ankle was opened up during surgery. Fortunately, the dark spot in the scan was just an old cartilage aberration, nothing fresh from the current injury. The surgery was a complete success.

Recovering From the Injury

In many ways, it’s better to break a bone than to tear a ligament. Bones take about six weeks to heal. The longer part of the recovery is the painstakingly slow soft tissue layering and rebuilding processes, as this can take an additional six weeks. Fresh tissue is extremely weak and requires weeks of stretching and strengthening before an individual can return to regular activities, let alone practice and engage in top-level competition. That’s why we tell people to expect a solid six-month recovery. But for a real sober assessment, it will be a year before you truly feel like yourself again.

It certainly helps to have a positive frame of mind and loving support around you during recovery, though. Gordon Hayward has kept himself busy entertaining his two daughters (2 and 1) by riding around on a scooter with a basket. He has been inspired by an outpouring of support from fans and fellow players. In the meantime, he’s imagining what it’ll be like to make his debut as a Celtic. “It’s going to be a little delayed,” he confesses. “But with each day of my rehab, I’ll be that much closer to making it happen,” he adds.

Treatment for Ankle Injuries in New York City

Whether you have sustained a major injury like Gordon Hayward’s or are just experiencing foot or ankle pain, it’s important to get a professional opinion at the first sign of a problem. The health of your feet plays a critical role in overall health and mobility, after all, and an injured foot can lead to injuries in other areas of the body.

If you’re in the NYC area, visit the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine specialists for top-level care. We have all the equipment necessary to treat complex acute injuries right here in our office, so you don’t have to sit in the ER waiting room. We’ll take you all the way through rehabilitation and recovery using state-of-the-art tools, therapies, and technologies. For more information or to set up an appointment, contact us today.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.