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‘It’s just a little silly’: Jazz fans continue booing treatment of Gordon Hayward as Celtics come to town

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) tries to drive on Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) as the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Boston won 114-103.
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) tries to drive on Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) as the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Boston won 114-103.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Almost three years later, it came as little surprise Wednesday night that boos rained down on Gordon Hayward from the Vivint Arena crowd as soon as his name was announced during starting lineups before his Boston Celtics took on the Utah Jazz.

A lot has happened for both Hayward and the Jazz since he signed with the Celtics in the summer of 2017, but Utah fans’ in-game treatment of him has remained the same in his once-annual trip to Salt Lake City. Any time Utah’s 2010 lottery pick was involved in a play on either end of the floor, fans let him know how they felt.

After the starting lineups, Hayward fouled Royce O’Neale on the first play of the game and there were the fans with the boos. He touched the ball on the ensuing possession and the boos returned. He made his first bucket inside of two minutes to play in the first quarter and there were the fans with the boos.

On and on it went, the exception being whenever Hayward failed on something, be it a missed shot or getting scored on. In those instances, naturally, the fans cheered wildly.

Hayward did not make himself available to media postgame, but it was clear that his teammates were happy they came out with the win in part to silence the crowd.

”Gordon has worked his tail off,” guard Marcus Smart said. “It always feels good to come back where you started and to hear that crowd booing and to come out and win and they can’t say anything.”

Added Jayson Tatum: “I’m happy we got this win for G.”

But the most fitting teammate to discuss Hayward’s night was former Jazzman Enes Kanter. The two both played for Utah from 2011-2015 and Kanter is now in his first season with the Celtics.

Kanter himself has gotten the booing treatment from Jazz fans since his departure from the Beehive State was, like Hayward’s, less than graceful.

“One thing about Gordon, before he’s a good basketball player, he’s a really good teammate, so it’s just a little silly that he gets all the boos still,” Kanter said. “I don’t think it’s hate anymore. It’s just, they’re just enjoying it.”

Kanter, though, didn’t totally mind that he was no longer the fans’ primary booing focus (he still got some, but they were not nearly at the level of those directed at Hayward).

“That was the first time I was just not nervous,” Kanter said. “Every time I come here I’m usually really nervous, but now we got Gordon, who of course is going to get more boos.”

Hayward finished the night with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and had five rebounds and two assists. Kanter finished with eight points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal off the bench and was instrumental in Boston’s fourth-quarter run that all but put the game away.

In seven fourth-quarter minutes, Kanter scored six points with three rebounds, a steal and a block.