Can virtual-reality video games get Hayward back on the court faster?


Can virtual-reality video games get Hayward back on the court faster?

BOSTON – Gordon Hayward loves video games, which has helped him pass the time while his dislocated left ankle injury in October still heals.

But it may prove to be more than just something to keep his mind off of the long road to getting back on the floor that’s ahead of him.


It may become part of his rehabilitation.

In an article by Tom Haberstroh for Bleacher Report, the Celtics are reportedly looking into incorporating the use of video games into Hayward’s recovery.

“Virtual-reality stuff," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told BR. "We're trying to figure out a way to do some video games that can actually be of benefit to his basketball play."

The Celtics aren’t saying much about it because of a non-disclosure agreement they signed with a video game company, which prohibits them from addressing any specific details about the “project.”

It’s no secret that Hayward is an avid video gamer, so the idea of developing an aspect of his rehabilitation program that incorporates his passion for video games makes a lot of sense.

One of the things Hayward’s camp has stressed since his Oct. 17 injury in the season-opener at Cleveland was to make sure Hayward stayed as engaged as possible and that they would find ways to “liven up” his rehab process so that he can return to the floor fully healthy in as short a period of time as possible.

Part of his rehab involves shooting shots from the free-throw line and half-court, while sitting in a chair, which was something Celtics coach Brad Stevens said one of his coaching brethren Frank Vogel (now in Orlando) did when he was the Indiana Pacers coach and their star player at the time, Paul George, was on the mend from a knee injury.

And while Hayward is admittedly pushing for a return in the coming months, he understands a return this season or even for the playoffs is remote.

The Celtics have repeatedly said that they are not planning on Hayward returning to this season.

Boston received an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward’s injury. Among the criteria to receive the DPE was that an independent doctor had to confirm that it would be “unlikely” Hayward would return prior to June 15.

For him to be back on the floor in time for the playoffs would mean he would be healed at least two months prior to that June 15 deadline.

While both the Celtics and Hayward acknowledge his return this season is unlikely, you won’t hear anyone in his camp or among the Celtics telling him there’s no chance.

“We’re not going to put a limit or cap on Gordon’s progress,” his agent Mark Bartelstein told NBC Sports Boston. “But at the same time, we’re not gonna put a number or date for him to come back, either. He’s attacking the process of getting healthier, trying to get better from one day to the next.”

And a new weapon – video games – just may speed that process along.


Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.