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A Wheeler's Opinion: Everybody Saw the Ugly Hayward Incident but Nobody Saw that he Was Fouled?

The videos stated: A foul should have been called

Gordon Hayward injured
While it was surely unintentional, LeBron James clearly made contact with Gordon Hayward. 

Two games into the season. Two lost games for the Boston Celtics. 80 more to go. And they will have to play the rest of the 2017-2018 NBA season without one of their newest acquisitions over the very busy off-season: Gordon Hayward. 

Hayward sustained a gruesome leg injury 5 minutes into the Boston's season opener against the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hayward was then carefully put on a stretcher and was taken out of the court while players from both sides were clearly shocked by the horrific scene- seeing how cruel life can be for basketball players, for all athletes for that matter. 

While the Celtics managed to challenge the Cavs until the final buzzer, it was LeBron James' MVP-like performance, which included 29 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists, that propelled the Cavs to open their season with a victory. Mind you, folks. LeBron himself missed a big chunk of the preseason due to an injury but whatever that injury, it didn't appear to be slowing down the King, at least in the opener.

Now, let's focus our attention on that specific play where Gordon Hayward got himself terribly injured. Hayward, who only scored 2 points before the incident, was attempting to complete an alley-oop play off a lob from Kyrie Irving. Here's what happened next: LeBron James rose up to challenge the already on-air Hayward. Bam! The two players collided in mid-air. James was able to land on his feet but things went differently for Hayward, and for the rest of the Celtics. Hayward was headed for a bad fall after that unfortunate collision and made him land awkwardly. 

The rest was all gruesomeness as Hayward was screaming in pain. That was something any basketball player couldn't bear to watch. Remember Paul George's injury a few years ago? Well, that was more gruesome than this one but still, a gruesome one.

Right after the game where the Cavs managed to win on a 102-99 decision, this basketball pundit on wheels had a chat with one of his colleagues over Facebook messenger.  This pundit was asked by his colleague to check the replay of that play on YouTube. This colleague asked: "Wasn't there supposed to be a foul, to say the least?" That question made this pundit on wheels go over YouTube and have a second look at that play.

There should have been a foul

From the personal perspective of this basketball pundit, a foul should have been called against LeBron James or, against Jae Crowder because he was the one guarding Hayward during that time and LeBron just came over as a help defender. LeBron managed to block Hayward's attempt but it came at a cost. 

Now, LeBron James isn't someone who will intentionally hurt his opponents as his gestures afterward proved- showing support to the injured guy by making sure he was getting enough medical attention while inside the locker room. And even this pundit doesn't think it was LeBron's nor Crowder's intention to take Hayward out of the game. 

However, regardless if it was intentional or not, the question still remains: why didn't the referees blow their whistles? Not that a foul could have avoided the injury but the fact still remains: Hayward clearly made contact with either LeBron, Crowder or even both of them and Hayward fell. Badly. Maybe the referees saw differently from their perspective. Maybe the referees missed something. Maybe. Maybe. Lots of maybes. Really. 


Press releases from the Celtics and Hayward's representatives stated that Hayward's surgery was successful. He even managed to address the Boston fans right before the Celtics' defeat from the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, their second straight to open the regular season. With Hayward possibly missing the entire season, the Celtics may have to rely on Kyrie Irving. Alone. Again.

As for the NBA, they should really review that play. Nobody wanted that to happen and Gordon Hayward knew the risks of that play but that doesn't change the fact that somebody got hurt and nobody was penalized for it. Nobody.  Hayward was fouled. A foul should have been called. And the referees didn't call it. That was their call. And we can only respect their call because they were the ones on the court and not us, right? 

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