Dear Gordon Hayward,
I am choosing to follow in your footsteps by writing a blog, or letter, to you as a response to your decision of leaving the Utah Jazz. First of all, congratulations on the hefty contract you just signed; I am genuinely happy for you and your family. You guys were always great family members to us in Utah for the last 7 years.
Your decision to leave has obviously been heartbreaking to the state of Utah and the passionate fans that support the team through thick and thin. I know it was hard to do that to us, I really do. And admittedly, I can also understand if you have some negative feelings towards the fan base here. We haven’t always supported you and your growth as a player, but by the end of your tenure in Utah, you won every single one of us completely over.
Remember when the fans booed you on draft night because our beloved Jazz decided to use its lottery pick to draft a scrawny kid with a bowl cut from Butler? Remember when fans got impatient with your development? Remember when lots of us were against matching the Charlotte Hornets’ max offer sheet to you in the summer of 2014? The fans’ support for you has been a roller coaster ride, but do you know whose support never wavered, under any circumstance? The Utah Jazz organization. They took a chance on you, developed you, gave you the keys to run the team, made you an all-star, made you a multi-millionaire. People like the Millers, Steve Starks, Dennis Lindsey and Coach Snyder never ONCE doubted you. You were their star. They chose YOU.
We all read your Players’ Tribune piece on how it was a very exhausting and long decision, but truthfully, when did you make your decision? After all of the blood and sweat this organization has put into you, the least they could ask for was your complete honesty and integrity about your decision and process of making your final call. You didn’t owe ANYTHING to the fans, but you owed EVERYTHING to the organization and state. I have a hard time believing after the first report of you going to Boston came out, you were still contemplating a decision, but somehow wrote out a 2100 word post about picking Boston. Either you are the world’s fastest typewriter or you just lied to the Jazz organization about coming to your final decision just a few days ago. People aren’t stupid, Gordon. You knew you were going to Boston the last time you walked out of the Vivint Smart Home Arena, while the fans chanted, “GOR–DON HAY-WARD!!!” So why did you wait 4 days after free agency started to tell the organization you weren’t coming back?
I am not mad you left; basketball is just a game and you did what was best for you and your family (as a fan–of course I’m disappointed in losing an all-star), it is the WAY you left. Paul George gave Indiana his clear intentions of leaving to give them plenty of time to recuperate and make a decision on how to go forward, Chris Paul mimicked George, and the Clippers were able to stockpile some valuable assets in return. But you left Utah with…nothing. I am sorry to be blunt, but absolutely nothing. The 4 days that passed in free agency could have been extremely advantageous to the organization going forward. Most of the big name free agents were gone by the time you made your decision, leaving the Jazz with limited options to recover from this massive blow.
Can you truly blame the fans for being overly upset? This franchise has had letdown, after letdown, after letdown. We’ve been to the Finals twice in the HISTORY of the NBA and never won in any of those appearances, while the Celtics hang 17 championship banners in the rafters. We believed this was the continuance of something extraordinarily special and you were the one to carry us. Many of us are very angry, but fans are what help make the game fun and competitive. Could you imagine how dull games would be if fans weren’t as passionate and emotionally attached to their team and players? Yeah, it’s just a game. But the game wouldn’t be making billions of dollars without these aforementioned fans paying money, while investing lots of money and time to support the sport.
You simply left the Jazz, you weren’t honest with us, you didn’t allow us to gain any assets or get a head start in free agency, and you went to a franchise that has won more championships than any other team in NBA history. You owed something to the organization. I’m sure many of us would’ve had a much more painless time processing your leave if you would have left a couple of bucks on the table to support us.
Thank you for the 7 years you gave to Utah. I truly wish you and your precious family all the best going forward in life. It’s just not fair being a Jazz fan and having your stars taken by big-market teams when you are on the cusp of something special. Have fun trying to convince the hobbit point guard on your new team to pass the ball and give you a chance to run the offense.