BOSTON — Eleven months removed from his gruesome opening-night ankle injury, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said Thursday that he’s essentially at full health and has been playing 5-on-5 games with teammates in advance of training camp later this month.

Hayward even slipped into his No. 20 uniform after Thursday’s news conference, one in which he repeatedly stressed how excited he is about the chance to finally get back on the court with teammates this season.

“I would say I’m basically 100 percent,” Hayward said at the Auerbach Center, Boston’s sparkling new training facility. “There’s certain things that I think are going to take time — even if I was 100 percent healthy, I’m not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven’t played in a year.

“I’m trying to figure those things out. The last step for me as far as from a physical standpoint is a little explosion, that little last juice bounce that you get. So that’s going to take me the longest time. But like I said, for the most part, I feel very good.”

Hayward fractured his left ankle while landing awkwardly on an alley-oop attempt just five minutes into Boston’s season opener in Cleveland last October. Hayward worked hard in hopes of a return last season but needed a follow-up surgery in late May to remove the plate and screws that were implanted in his fibula during the original surgery.

Throughout the summer, Hayward offered small glimpses of his progress via social media, including a snippet of him dunking off a drive in one-on-one work in mid-August. But Thursday was the first time he confirmed he had launched back into 5-on-5 work.

“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates,” said Hayward. “Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good.”

Hayward admitted that rehabbing from the injury was “the most difficult thing I’ve done.” He detailed the mental challenges, including some dark days after the injury occurred, and then when he needed the follow-up surgery in May. But he gushed with energy about emerging from those tough times.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY