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Leave Danny Ainge and Gordon Hayward out of the voting booth

SALT LAKE CITY — If there’s one thing that can match politics for pure hot air, it’s sports. This summer, Utahns have been lucky enough to get the double whammy.

As if the political climate weren’t volatile enough, now add free agency.

Great. An ideologue chanting, “Defense! Defense!”

Anyway, almost any sports and political union is an invitation to trouble. If crime were added to the mix, it would be the full trifecta. (Wait … being told sports and politics actually do have plenty of crime … film at 11.) They also have plenty of silliness. What else do you call it when Gordon Hayward, Danny Ainge and a candidate for Congress end up in the same story?

The media have been abuzz for weeks over the pending recruitment of Hayward by Ainge, the Boston Celtics’ general manager. When free agency begins Friday at 10 p.m. (MDT), the Celtics will be able to pursue Hayward unimpeded. They have a compelling argument. It is one of history’s transcendent sports franchises, with 17 championships.

They are also the second-best team in the Eastern Conference right now. Enter Ainge, who will be pulling out the stops for Hayward. Ainge wants a championship posthaste, and Hayward might be able to deliver one.

Meanwhile, Ainge’s son Tanner is hoping to fill Jason Chaffetz’s vacant congressional seat. The younger Ainge has been lobbying on social media for Hayward to remain with the Jazz.

This is where the story gets weird. Pundits from Salt Lake to Boston are wringing their hands over the possibility that Danny’s aggressiveness could cost his son votes out in Utah. Would voters turn against Tanner because his father wooed Hayward away from the Jazz?

Please. It’s obvious the news and social media have too much time on their hands. Swing the election? Could there actually be a voter small enough to cast a ballot based on Hayward’s choice?

If so, voters are dumber than we thought.

Anyone who votes based on NBA free agency drama needs a quick class in civics. There are 535 members of Congress and approximately 449 NBA players. Here’s an idea: Require all voters to name a member of Congress for every NBA player they recognize.

Adding intrigue to the story is that Danny was in Utah this week, raising funds for his son. Or was he here to get on Hayward’s radar?

To his credit, the younger Ainge is keeping things in perspective. He did post Jazz support on Twitter, noting Massachusetts just passed a “millionaire’s tax,” which can’t be good for a guy about to make $132 million, minimum. At the same time, he also tweeted, “Campaign is about economic growth, innovation, fiscal responsibility ... but twitter only talking about Gordon Hayward.”

Fair and true.

The elder Ainge has said he can’t see how politics and basketball could alienate family members. Still, the story persists. What if Hayward leaves for Boston, thanks to Danny Ainge’s persuasiveness? Does that mean his son should go down in the elections?

Tanner Ainge might lose, but his father shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

If basketball and politics were that cozy, Kevin Johnson could become mayor of Sacramento. Oops.

Admittedly, Tanner Ainge isn’t an ordinary candidate. His name recognition is bound to help. But it’s a stretch to say he doesn’t deserve votes because his father is doing a good job in Boston.

The younger Ainge can run on his own merit. Danny can go back to building a champion. No need to reach for silly connections. Vote for Tanner Ainge because of his stance on school lunches, immigration, the national debt or land rights. But don’t do it for reasons related to his father.

In other words, vote your conscience, not your heart.

If the younger Ainge is half as good in Congress as his dad is with the Celtics, he’ll soon have everyone believing he can do miracles.