MIAMI — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward didn’t want to take praise for something that wasn’t true and set the record straight Tuesday after it was suggested he purposely tried to commit a lane violation to ensure Kobe Bryant would score 60 points in his final NBA game.
A clip of Hayward stepping into the lane early as Bryant took the final free-throw in a 60-point night against Hayward’s Utah Jazz circulated on social media Monday and NBC Sports' Mike Tirico suggested Hayward did it intentionally to ensure Bryant would get another free throw in case he missed.
Hayward said friends bombarded him with messages Monday and he felt the need to set the record straight, taking to Twitter that night to dispel the story. He reiterated that stance Tuesday at Boston’s morning shootaround in Miami.
"I don't get on Twitter. So, for something to come to my attention, it's got to be pretty big. A bunch of my friends were hitting me about it, and just wanted to get ahead of it and speak the truth about it,” said Hayward. "It would have been really cool if that was the case, but it wasn't. The tweet kind of speaks for itself.
"It's obviously been a tough couple days with what happened. I haven't watched the game or anything like that, but my buddies started texting me about it, and that was the first I'd heard of it. It just was kind of awkward. All these people were sending me stuff about things that, or giving me praise, I guess, for something that I didn't do, or deserve or anything. So I just wanted to set the record straight.”
Hayward praised Bryant while noting, “he got 60 on me and I didn’t give him anything free all night.’ He was asked Tuesday what his memory of that game was.
"Just the whole thing,” said Hayward. "I wrote a blog about it when it happened. The atmosphere was electric and something I probably won't ever be part of again.”
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