Tuesday was supposed to mark the start of a new era of Boston Celtics basketball. After making two major acquisitions and reshuffling most of their roster over the summer, they were set to prove themselves against the reigning NBA Finals representative in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a matter of minutes, however, Opening Night turned into a horror show for the team and its fans, as major free agent signee Gordon Hayward crumpled to the ground with one of the worst-looking injuries in recent NBA memory.

Hayward goes down

With about 6:45 to go in the first quarter of the team's opening game of the season, Hayward went up towards his own basket, only to crumble to the hardwood in gruesome fashion.

The play continued for a moment before the gravity of the forward's injury began to set in. He quickly began clutching his left leg as the Celtics training staff came out to tend to their new star, eventually needing a stretcher to take him off the court, writhing in sharp pain.

Despite the game taking place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, an eerie quiet came over the opposing crowd as Hayward was taken off the court. The reaction of the players on the court said it all. Both teams were clearly emotional, with Cavs guard Dwyane Wade burying his head in his hands and Celtics forward Jaylen Brown walking in a daze with his mouth agape.

They were joined in shock and heartbreak by the rest of the NBA.

The NBA reacts to Hayward's injury

Every NBA player sitting on their couch, trying to enjoy the first night of games, also had a very visceral reaction to the Hayward injury. New Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George tweeted out several messages of support on behalf of the Celtics star.

His words carry weight; he suffered another one of the sport's most gruesome injuries a few years ago during a Team USA training camp.

Many of Hayward's ex-Jazz teammates also tweeted supportive messages, including center Rudy Gobert and forward Trey Lyles. Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin, and Karl-Anthony Towns also lent their voices to the virtual get-well cards headed on a first-class flight towards Boston.

By the end of the night, Hayward was diagnosed with a fractured ankle, with no immediate timeline emerging for a possible return to the court. While it dampened an incredible NBA doubleheader to open the season, at least the forward knows he has the support of his Celtics teammates and the league as a whole going forward.


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