Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says that he will leave the NBA’s Disney World bubble for the birth of his fourth child if the Celtics are still playing.
“There’ll be a time if and when we’re down there and she’s going to have the baby, I’m for sure going to be with her,” Hayward said of his wife, Robyn. “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
Robyn Hayward is due in September — meaning that, with the Eastern Conference Semifinals scheduled to begin no later than Aug. 30, and the Eastern Conference Finals scheduled to begin no later than Sept. 15, Hayward would have to spend at minimum several days during the playoffs away from his teammates.
But Hayward said that the decision to be with his wife for the birth of their child wasn’t complicated.
“It’s a pretty easy decision for me on that,” Hayward said. “I’ve been at the birth of every one of my children and I think there are more important things in life. So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“I know the NBA has a protocol for that type of thing and hopefully I can do the quarantining and testing the appropriate amount of time and then be back with the boys.”
Hayward is right, as the NBA has built in protocols for approved absences such as this — along with other instances like a death in the family — that require a player or staff member inside the bubble to leave. Under those circumstances, if a player leaves for less than seven days, and tests negative on each day that he is not inside the bubble, he would have to quarantine for four days upon returning to the bubble.
Any player who leaves the bubble without approval will be subject to a minimum quarantine of 10 days.
Hayward isn’t the only player facing this type of situation, as Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 27.
“The understanding that I’d be able to see her and I’d be able to be back for the baby, as long as all that was answered and the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted on that situation, I was more and more comfortable knowing I’d be able to be back with them at some point,” Conley said on a conference call earlier this week.
The prospect of being away from friends and family for the next several weeks is something weighing on the minds of everyone who is scheduled to be headed inside the bubble, a process that officially begins Monday. While players will have the ability to have friends or family come visit them after the first round of the playoffs (if their team is still playing), staff members currently won’t be allowed to have family there at any point — something Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been vocal about trying to change.
Hayward said the idea of leaving his wife and three young daughters behind is a tough thing to wrap his head around.
“I think for a lot of people in the NBA, a difficult decision as far as leaving family, especially if you have little kids,” he said. “This is a unique experience that’s about to happen, because although we are on the road a lot during the year, you do get time to come home. Maybe maximum eight, nine, ten days on the road before you’re home. And so being gone for a lot longer certainly is going to be tough. It’s going to be hard, there’s no doubt about it.
“I think leaving the girlies is gonna be really hard and for sure a sad day for me. I think they’re old enough to the point where they do understand what’s going on and we’ve tried to explain to them that I’m gonna be gone for a little while. It’s something where I think it is what it is. I think the opportunity to compete for a championship and play for a title is something a lot of us NBA players want to do. We want to go down there and continue the season and try to finish something that we’ve worked for all year. So I think there’s definitely a lot to think about.” He also praised his wife, who he said would be traveling back to Indianapolis with their daughters to be with their families, for how she’s handling what is a stressful situation for all of them.
“She’s sad, for sure,” Hayward said. “My wife has been unbelievable through this whole thing. She is taking care of the girls, taking care of me, beause I’ve been home more and that’s something she does really well. All while being pregnant. Helping me get ready for this upcoming deal that we’re going to go through [and] at the same time, trying to get the girls ready to go back to Indianapolis for the baby.
“She’s just been amazing … She’s been stressing a little bit about this and I can’t blame her for that. It’s definitely been a stressful time for us. But I think she will be happy if I go down there and play well and the Celtics play well. I know she will be. I think we’re all blessed now as we’re on this Zoom call here with the technology these days to be able to communicate with video calls and I can still talk to her every day. It won’t be the same as me being there and doing storytime and bedtime and all that good stuff, but maybe I can do some of that remotely.”
On the court this season, Hayward looked much closer to the player he was prior to the devastating injury he suffered in his first game for the Celtics against the Cleveland Cavaliers in his first game with the franchise in 2018. But he admitted Friday that he still feels pain in his left foot at times, and while he expects it is because of that injury, he isn’t sure what is causing it.
“I wish that I had an answer to why it is a little sore,” said Hayward, who missed time in December because of the same issue. “I think a lot of it relates to just the injury that I had. I’ve been training pretty much this whole time. Not full go obviously, since I haven’t had a court the whole time, but I have been trying to stay fit. I’ve been resting, but at the same time not resting … kind of like a maintenance type thing.
“Everything is definitely a lot better, there is no doubt about that. For sure, I’m feeling great, it’s just the foot still is a little sore. It is what it is.”
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