Gordon Hayward credits Brad Stevens as first person who made him realize he could play in NBA
Itâ€™s apparent Gordon Hayward still feels affection for his old college coach.
At his introductory press conference Friday, the All-Star forward reflected fondly on his time playing under Brad Stevens at Butler University. The two experienced tremendous success together at the mid-major, climaxing in Butler’s 2010 NCAA championship run during Hayward’s sophomore season. The Bulldogs lost the title game to Duke by two points, though Hayward nearly drained the last-second half-court heave.Â
“I always say that Coach Stevens was the first person — I always had a dream to play in the NBA but he was the first person I think made me realize I could maybe get there one day,â€� Hayward explained. â€œAnd so to be back and reunited with him again, I’m beyond excited and can’t wait to get to work.â€�
While Hayward and Stevens have remained in touch â€“â€“ often meeting for meals when their teams play for each other â€“â€“ theyâ€™re not as close as the media portrays. Hayward pushed back against that narrative in a podcast interview last month with ESPNâ€™s Adrian Wojnarowski, saying their relationship is â€œoverstated and overhyped.â€�
Still, Hayward acknowledges the history he shares with Stevens. “I think both of us have grown,” he said. “For me, especially as a person and a basketball player. In college, your college coach is somewhat more like a father figure, you’re younger, you lean on them a lot. Now I’m a father and I have two little girls of my own and definitely just like Kyrie (Irving) grew up in college. … For me, just a lot of growing up, I think, as a person, as well as a basketball player.”
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Source: GreenStreet Blog