This archived article was written by: Tai Justice
July 4 is supposed to be a national holiday that celebrate with close friends and family. It wasn’t that for Jazz fans this past summer. Late on July 3, it was leaked out that Gordon Hayward’s decision was going to be made on July 4.
I woke up and was refreshing Twitter and my phone all day waiting for the decision that was going to effect the Jazz franchise for at least the next five years.
Every time my phone vibrated my heart skipped a beat. When the decision finally came it was sad. The fan base didn’t deserve him to leave like that, but the organization epically didn’t. The Jazz had been building this team the quote “right way”. Throughout the draft, developing their own players and then making smart signing and moves. They deserved for their all-star player to re-sign, but that’s just not how it works.
The threat of Hayward signing with Boston was looming over the team all season long. You heard rumors and rumbling, but for me, I always wanted to believe that he was going to stay. I convinced myself he was going to stay with the organization and fan base that watched him go from a little shaggy haired kid that Dolente West stuck his finger in his ear, to an all-star.
You watched him grow up into a father. I know this is just about sports, but theJazz fans’ relationship with Hayward truly felt deeper than that, no matter how corny that sounds, it’s true. We’d been through it with him every step of the way. From the tank year to the Jazz finally making the playoffs again this last season and winning a playoff series. Even as the Jazz were being eliminated, the fans in the arena were chanting his name. The Jazz fans’ relationship with Hayward was a special one. It sucks that it is over.
Even months later, it’s hard for me to believe he left. I was watching his and Kyrie Irving’s Celtics press conference on Sept. 1 and it looked surreal. I will never get that image of him and Kyrie hugging with Celtics’ green on. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I wanted to whip my remote through my TV. Hayward has made a few comments regarding his time in Utah. It’s been the usual stuff like, “Regardless of how this turned out, my time in Utah meant something to me.” Or “Jazz fans are still great.” He only threw us a couple of canned comments, the same way someone would throw table scraps to a dog. The comments didn’t help me as a Jazz fan. It only has made me bitterer.
I remember watching the fireworks on July 4th thinking. “Why do I care this much about sports?” “Where someone decided to go play basketball shouldn’t bother me as much as it is.” Those moments are when I usually swear of caring about sports that much anymore, but the next day the obsession is still there.
We really are fools for caring about athletes so much more than they care about us. They don’t even know we exist! We all know this, but we still do it. We just like sports. We keep watching for moments like Gordon Hayward’s game winner against the Cavs in 2014, or his 38-point performance against the Timberwolves this past season as he cried in his postgame interview as the court chanted his name. We put up with all the sobering stuff because that’s the price you pay. For every Steph Curry half-court shot or Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook, there’s something like what happened with Hayward and the Jazz this summer. Hayward’s decision didn’t make me love sports any less. Everyone knows I’m a Packers’ fan. My guard has been up since 2009 when Brett Favre forced his way to the Vikings. This stuff happens. All this did was reinforce my guard that was already up.
Sports shouldn’t matter this much. They always will for me, but they shouldn’t.