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.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.



Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.