Celtics

Gordon Hayward's 'relationship stays the same' with Chinese sneaker company amid NBA controversy

Gordon Hayward's 'relationship stays the same' with Chinese sneaker company amid NBA controversy

The NBA and China are currently at odds over a tweet sent out by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting protesters in Hong Kong.

In the wake of the tweet that angered the Chinese government, there has been tension between China and the NBA. China has canceled planned broadcasts of NBA preseason games and at one point, it seemed possible that the league wouldn't go forward with the Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers preseason game scheduled to be played in Shanghai.

Instead, the game was played with media obligations for the players and coaches canceled. And players, coaches, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver are trying to tiptoe around the larger issues at hand. Teams are reportedly even prepared for a drop in the salary cap due to lost revenue from China. 

Amid the controversy, Chinese athletic footwear company Anta has broken off negotiations with the league. But according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is still on good terms with the company that sponsors him, and he will be wearing the sneakers again this season.

"My relationship stays the same," Hayward told Bulpett before Friday's preseason game in Orlando. "They’ve been great to me the whole time. I was just over there in China and had a great time, so it hasn’t affected me."

Hayward didn't expound much on the business between the NBA and China and simply noted that he only knows that he is "good to go." He has his own signature shoes, the GH1, and he will be wearing them for the first time this season.

Hayward is entering his third season with the Celtics. Last year, he averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game while primarily operating as a bench player. Now two years removed from a devastating ankle injury, he is expected to return to the Celtics' starting lineup in 2019.

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Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

The NBA's bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will provide the players with plenty of fun activities -- bowling, golf, movies, video games and ping pong, among others -- in their spare time. This doesn't mean the environment will be without challenges, though.

The Boston Celtics traveled down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and they will be staying at the Gran Destino Tower during the league's restart.

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Not every player will be in perfect basketball shape once practices ramp up soon. That's understandable, and it's a challenge the players eventually will overcome. The mental challenges will be the most important -- and maybe the toughest -- to battle through given the uniqueness of the situation. 

In the latest episode of the The Enes Kanter Show podcast, Celtics center Enes Kanter explained the importance of mental strength in the league's bubble.

"All we have to do is get in game shape. We all know how to play basketball. It's like riding a bike -- you can't forget how to play basketball," Kanter said. "You can be a little rusty and get back into shape. But I think the important thing is the mental part because you're away from your family and loved ones for three months and now all you have is your basketball family and coaches. That's why the 3-month period before Orlando was so important to keep building that chemistry. I think now we're all bonding and the chemistry is really good. We all care about each other. We're just going to go out there and play golf, go bowling and fish all day, and other than that just play basketball. I feel, besides from the games, you can actually just relax. Read a book, just invest in yourself."

Enes Kanter Show: C's center gives first impressions of NBA bubble | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The bubble was made to ensure the players can continue playing in an environment that's as safe and as healthy as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Players won't have the same freedom they normally do on the road, and the teams that are mentally tough and well prepared likely will enjoy the most success in Orlando.

Kanter is in no mood to complain. He's going to make the most out of the opportunity to compete for a championship, and you can bet his Celtics teammates will have a similar attitude. 

"Love it or hate, you're going to be here for three months," Kanter said. "So you might as well look at the positive side of it.

Check out The Enes Kanter Show on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below:

Celtics at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Celtics at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart often plays like a superhero on the basketball court.

The versatile guard plays multiple positions on offense and guards all five positions on defense. He'll hit 3-pointers, set up the offense, dive on the floor for loose balls, guard the opposing teams' best player, etc. There aren't many things Smart can't provide the Celtics. This all-around skill set is quite valuable to the C's, especially on defense. Smart was named to the league's All-Defensive first team last season, and he deserves a spot in that group again in 2019-20. 

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In the latest episode of Celtics at Home, one of the topics in the Celtics Census segment was, "which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?"

We asked 300 Celtics fans for the top six answers, and several of them are superheroes you would definitely associate with a player who excels on the defensive end of the court.

NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin and former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins teamed up against C's head coach Brad Stevens and Smart to see who could come up with the right answers. 

Watch the video below to find out which team won. Be sure to check out the NBC Sports Boston YouTube page for more Celtics at Home videos and other content.