Going through rehabilitation to get back onto the court after an injury is a process Gordon Hayward is all too familiar with.
But yet, the Celtics forward is stuck having to endure it once again.
Hayward left Game 1 of Boston’s first round series with the Philadelphia 76ers late in the fourth quarter and was diagnosed with a Grade 3 right ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out for at least four weeks.
Hayward’s tenure with Boston has been injury riddled, starting when he fractured his tibia in the opening minutes of his debut in a Celtics uniform in Cleveland causing him to miss the entire season. Back in November, Hayward suffered another broken bone when he fractured his hand and sat out 13 games.
Sidelined now with a sprained ankle, Hayward is trying to keep the right mindset as he begins his rehab to return to the court.
“It’s hard not to get into that,” said Hayward of trying not to get down from sustaining another injury. “Teammates, family, mentors, having good people around you helps with all that certainly. Just try to take it day by day, honestly, and just try to attack the rehab. Definitely have been here before so I know how to do that.”
Hayward’s been through so many injuries that he was able to discern the severity of his latest ailment right away. Hayward suffered the injury when he landed on Daniel Theis’ foot after battling for a rebound. Hayward, who limped off the court and didn’t return, has a walking boot on his right foot and is carrying around crunches again, too.
“I knew right away,” Hayward said. “I heard it. I felt it. I knew it wasn't your casual rolled ankle. It swelling by the time I was leaving the court. I knew it was definitely worse than normal. As far as timeline, it’s kind of up in the air. It’s how my body responds to the rehab and all that stuff. It’s hard to say. No one knows, really.”
Hayward said there isn't currently a plan in place for him to leave the NBA bubble to rehab his injury. And if there were advantages to starting his rehab in Orlando, Hayward couldn’t find any, except for one.
“Maybe I can use some Disney magic to help me get better,” Hayward said.
Unfortunately for Hayward, he has more insight than he needs into the strenuous rehabilitation process. For him, going through the physical toll of rehab to get his ankle back to full strength pales in comparison to the toll this journey takes on his mental health.
“The mental side of rehab is by far more difficult than the physical side of rehab,” Hayward said. “There’s a lot of time when you’re alone, there’s a lot of time when you’re contemplating, there’s a lot of time to think. So, the mental side is the hardest part. Having good people around you is very key, its very important and I definitely have that.”
Hayward, clearly dejected, says the mental side of rehab is by far the harder part of physical rehab... there's a lot of time when you're alone, there's a lot of time to think...— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) August 20, 2020
While Hayward said all the right things, it was clear he was dejected from suffering another injury that will cost him significant time, especially in this go-around with it coming in the playoffs.
“It’s definitely gutting,” Hayward said. “It sucks. It’s definitely frustrating. It doesn’t feel great at the moment. Just trying to get better as soon as I can.”