By Mark Paulette
Even before Gordon Hayward’s shocking and sickening fractured ankle suffered just five minutes, 15 seconds into the NBA season, the fate of the Celtics was written. It was written before either team took the court Tuesday night in Cleveland.
How exactly does this relate to Tom Brady? And why on earth is it his fault? Well, for the past six weeks, as we have panicked at the sight of the New England Patriots “slumping” to a 4-2 record, I have tried to remain rather level-headed and inform people that at the end of the day, the Pats still have the greatest player on the planet on their side. When the dust settles from the media firestorm and the NFL season progresses, Tom Brady will have the Pats positioned firmly ahead of the other teams in the league as they embark on a quest for Lombardi trophy no. 6.
There is little reason to doubt such a statement, as it’s simply what the man does, having played in seven-consecutive AFC Championship games. If history has proven one thing, it’s that no matter the early season doubts, no matter the narratives hyped by the media, the result remains constant.
Now, take this model to the NBA, where you find LeBron James perched atop the Eastern Conference.
Boston’s offseason acquisitions placed the team in prime contention of LeBron’s Cavaliers, but ultimately, it’s still LeBron and everyone else, because that’s just how the story goes. Much is being made of King James as he enters his 15th season in the league, and that the time for the Celtics to strike may be just around the corner. It may appear that way on the surface, though that’s just because James has mastered the science of the NBA.
Despite posting career-highs in rebounds and assists per game last year, while raising his scoring total by over one point per game from the prior two seasons, the thought was that James would succumb to fatigue by season’s end. But his postseason splits of 32.8/9.1/7.8 quashed that argument and showed that when the lights turn on, LeBron is as good as ever. The same can be said of Brady. The regular season is simply a formality for these men at this point in their respective careers. There’s little reason to doubt that at season’s end, they’ll get the job done.
There are but few words to say in circumstances like this, so I’ll keep it brief.
Shock was the first word that leapt to mind as Hayward crashed to the floor not even halfway through the first quarter. Sickening was the next, followed by a dejected state. Months’ worth of buildup and promise vanished in an instant.
The reactions from within Quicken Loans Arena perhaps were the most shocking. The eerie silence which blanketed the tens of thousands of spectators and the uniform disturbance evident on their faces. The players of each team, huddled at opposite ends on the court, visibly jarred.
Yet, most incredibly, one of the few calm people in the arena outside of both medical staffs, which flooded the floor, rushing to Hayward’s aid, was Hayward himself. After writhing on the ground in agony as the medics worked to set his left foot which was bent at a near-90-degree angle, Hayward sat upright, shaking the hands of LeBron and fellow players who came over to greet their fallen brother.
While it will no doubt be a lengthy recovery process, if Hayward proves to be half as poised when taking a shot with the game on the line as he was during this ordeal, the future of the Celtics is still in good hands.
Mark Paulette is the senior producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.