Gordon Hayward was booed, then booed some more in his first game back in Utah since leaving the Jazz for the Boston Celtics in free agency two summers ago. It was a reminder that this Utah fan base still has a sour taste in its mouth after one of the best players in franchise history left them for nothing
You knew what type of night it was going to be when Utah opted against a video tribute for Hayward’s first game back. Instead, they posted a 21-second video on Twitter.
Hayward walked into familiar territory with a smile on his face. It was his old home arena. He knew the corridors well.
But that all changed when he walked out onto the court for pregame warmups.
Let me take that back. Gordon Hayward gets booed as he walks off the floor from his pregame warmup routine.
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) November 10, 2018
— MaTT James (@MaTsaves) November 10, 2018
Then he walked out onto the Jazz home court as a starter in a Celtics jersey.
It didn’t stop there. He was jeered at the foul line:
A few Jazz fans with a “We don’t miss you” chant for Gordon Hayward while he’s at the line.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 10, 2018
One Jazz fan wore a custom jersey that read “Coward” instead of Hayward:
The Jazz also targeted Hayward defensively, forcing him to fight through screens to stay with his man.
Hayward guided Utah to a 51-31 record in the 2016-17 season, their best since 2008. The Jazz, though, were swept by the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, and Hayward left Utah for Boston shortly after.
The Jazz rebounded nicely after drafting Donovan Mitchell the following summer, and Hayward is enjoying his first few games of basketball action after an awful season-ending injury in his first game as a Celtic last season.
Time heals most wounds. It’s unclear if Jazz fans will ever warm up to Hayward after how he left them.