Kobe Bryant pens inspirational Instagram post to Gordon Hayward

Kobe Bryant pens inspirational Instagram post to Gordon Hayward

Less than six minutes into the first game of the season, NBA player Gordon Hayward fractured his left ankle in a gruesome-looking fall, the Boston Celtics confirmed.

Hayward's absence will place more pressure on Kyrie Irving to lead the way on his new team, and even more responsibility is going to land on Celtics youngsters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Hayward inked a four-year maximum contract with the C's this summer, and the hope is that he'll return fully healthy next fall to prove his worth in Boston. "NEVER want to see any of the guys go through anything like that". And then just being on the court, I'm not as explosive.

Irving missed a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer with LeBron James closing out on the play and the Cavs escaped with a 102-99 victory Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. There will be ups and downs and we have to withstand other teams' runs as well as hit back and have that hit-first mentality in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter. This could become Irving's new normal until Hayward is able to return. The forward's leg got twisted underneath him as he came back to the floor and snapped his ankle grotesquely, his foot pointing awkwardly to one side.

Love has a much greater defensive responsibility now that he's at center, no longer backed up by the team's lone rim protector.

Hayward's injury changed the tenor of the highly anticipated matchup, and will alter the direction of Boston's season. He finished with 22 points and 10 assists. Last night that meant giving time to embryonic players like Semi Ojeleye and Abdel Nader.

Honestly, I think the Celtics will struggle to begin this game.

But once again, his injury shows the sacrifice Hayward, a father of two, makes to live out his dream. Here are a few of the reactions.

"That was nothing", James told reporters after the game.

"You hurt for him", said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who spearheaded Boston's recruitment of Hayward and previously coached him at Butler. Every professional athlete, and even those beyond the professional spectrum, has made sacrifices, whether it's for their body, or for their careers, or for their families. Listen to the full interview in the podcast above!

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