One on one with Gordon Hayward

RoundballDaily caught up with the Utah Jazz swingman as he heads into his fourth season in the league. He’s still remembered for “The Shot” at Butler, but Hayward is slowly making his name in the NBA.

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Getty Images

RD: How often do you think about that half-court shot from the national championship game?

Hayward: (Laughs) I try not to think about it all the time. The only time I think about it now is if I’m watching Butler play or if someone brings it up. But I really don’t think about it that much other than that.

RD: Is it kind of bittersweet that it’s such an iconic moment in the NCAA Tournament and you were involved in it?

Hayward: Yeah, it is, I mean it was such a good run and those memories I’ll have forever. But at the same time it’s one of defeat and I hate losing and so I know all of us were disappointed with the way it ended.

RD: More upset about the half court shot or the one before, that could have put you guys up one?

Hayward: Definitely more upset about the shot before, the fadeaway from the baseline, because that one felt good to me. It just back-rimmed, so that’s the one that gets me.

RD: Have you been able to take a step back and think about the run you guys went on?

Hayward: I haven’t really thought about it yet. Just because basically since I left theres just been so much thats been going on. The NBA started up right away and it’s just been going ever since. So I think maybe when I’m older, I’ll be sitting there with some of those guys, my teammates and I are going to reflect on it, and look back on it and say, man, we had a good run.

RD: How surprised were you that Butler made it back to the championship game the next year?

Hayward: I wasn’t surprised. I knew they had the talent to get there. They kind of were struggling during that regular season, but they turned it on towards the end. To see them get all the way back and lose, it was just heartbreaking for me to watch.

RD: Duke is a love-or-hate team. Did you hate them before you played them in 2010?

Hayward: I actually liked Duke. I liked watching them play, and I liked watching coach K. So I was definitely a fan of Duke but, y’know, not really a big fan of them anymore. They were easily the best opponent we played all year, and out of everyone they deserved to win.

RD: How different do you think your life would be if that shot had gone down?

Hayward: I don’t know how much different, except for I would be known for hitting the shot, instead of missing, which would be a lot better I think.

gordon-hayward-shotBut people still come up to me all the time and say something about the shot. I guess if I hit it, it’d be hey man, that was such a good shot. And now it’s like, man I wish that shot would’ve gone in.

RD: Are there stereotypes that come along with being a white player? 

Hayward: Yeah, there were definitely stereotypes…at first, they didn’t think that I was that athletic. Like you said, I couldn’t defend…things like that, and I think so far, I’ve done a good job of proving some of them wrong.

RD: You were a tennis star in high school.

Hayward: I was probably better at tennis than I was at basketball in high school.

RD: Still play now?

Hayward: I haven’t played tennis really since high school. I played all sports growing up, so when I was finally able to focus on one sport in college, it was kind of a relief for me to be able to put everything else down. I’ve probably played 4 or 5 times since high school.

RD: Do you miss it at all?

Hayward: I do miss it. The thing I miss about tennis is, it’s just kind of the mano e mano battle. it’s just you against the other person. You get all the glory, and when you mess up, it’s kind of all on you as well. I miss that about the game.

RD: Your father was 5-11, Both your parents were short. Did you have any idea that you would grow up to be 6-8?

Hayward: No I did not. Both my parents are 5-10, and the doctor said I would be between 6-2 and 6-4, and to grow to be 6-8 is just a blessing from God and I can’t find any other way to describe it. There are no other tall people in my family. I guess I got pretty lucky.

RD: Now, you have a twin sister. What is your relationship like with her?

Hayward: We definitely had that growing up. She was always there for me and she played pretty much every I always had someone there that I could compete against, and we were competitive with everything. Whether it was sports or grades…you know it was really good just to have a friend growing up. Y’know we were taking the same classes and obviously it was very cool.

She’s married now, she’s back in Indiana and I don’t get to see her as often, but when we do get together, it’s just like old times.

RD: Do you feel like you’ve lived the dream?

Hayward: You know what, I feel like I have. The only thing that would have made it better is if I would have hit that shot. You know, high school basketball is everything in Indiana, and I was able to hit a buzzer-beater to win the state championship, then to go to Butler and make it all the way to the championship game, and then of course to play in the NBA…it’s all been pretty surreal. It’s a dream come true.

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