Rudy Gobert’s never been the type to hide his feelings on social media. So when Gordon Hayward decided to leave the Utah Jazz to join the Boston Celtics in free agency after a confusing and chaotic July 4 full of reports and refutations ultimately capped by a 2,100-word Players’ Tribune essay, it seemed likely that the All-NBA center and the Jazz’s new unquestioned focal point might have a thing or two to say about it.
As it turns out, he didn’t. He did, however, mouth the words as someone else said them.
Um … it's safe to say Rudy Gobert found out about Gordon Hayward signing with Boston.
( rudygobert27 | Instagram) pic.twitter.com/QdiT5olQxD
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 5, 2017
Yep: in the hours after Hayward’s future became clear, Gobert decided to share with his Instagram followers a clip of him listening to Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” and mouthing the phrase “These hoes ain’t loyal” while shaking his head. Get it?
It’s a bit of a harsh response from someone clearly feeling some French Rejection, but it was far from the only one offered by those in and around Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Some of those responses, as has now become a rite of passage whenever a star player leaves town, featured flames, in the sense of 140-character shots …
— Jake Woolston (@Jake_Woolston23) July 4, 2017
— Salani Kitake (@dillidalley) July 4, 2017
— Mig Baird (@MigBaird) July 4, 2017
— hateward (@alexevans2313) July 5, 2017
Excuse me….I have to go and drop a Gordon and wipe my Hayward! Not happy with how that went down, left high and dry! #betrayward
— Spencer Davenport (@dportfor3) July 5, 2017
I think I'm going to call into work sick tomorrow, except I'll wait until 4:55 PM and send my boss a nice worded email. #Betrayward
— Brandon Hadley (@hadleyfoo) July 5, 2017
… and, much more regrettably, actual fire:
— Lil Uzi Flirt (@MozeztheLeader) July 5, 2017
Jersey-burning as a specific response to a player’s exit will always feel insane to me, though the motivation behind it comes from an easy-to-pinpoint place: feeling like a jilted lover, a bride left at the altar. As SLC Dunk’s Mylo wrote, “Gordon Hayward broke up with us and all we got was a ghost written Players’ Tribune article and a 4th of July of leaks, he’s not sure, then the final blow. He couldn’t even break up with Utah right.”
That notion — that Hayward and his camp acted not just sloppily, but cruelly — extended beyond fan-first blogs and into local media covering the departure:
Gordon Hayward's next piece on The Players' Tribune should be titled, "I'm sorry, Utah, Jazz fans and media"
— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 5, 2017
Hayward doesn't owe an apology for choosing Boston, but he selfishly played with emotions and reputations by handling things how he did.
— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 5, 2017
Goodbye, Gordon Hayward, we hardly knew you.
Not the real you.
Not the you who was ducking out down a back alley, looking for the easier route. […]
He leaves behind the team, the people, who may not have been perfect but that were fine enough to help develop him into the player he is. That says something about who and what Hayward is, as a competitor, as a man. That’s the confounded thing about NBA free agency — players expect fans and franchises to give them darn near everything they’ve got, and then when they mostly receive it, they remember the times when maybe they didn’t get everything exactly the way they wanted it. And they run off to some other place where the grass looks greener, but the people and circumstances are no more flawless.
Fenway, Schmenway. Boston fans might cheer him now. Wait until he doesn’t win a championship.
Hayward leaves Utah ranking in the top 10 in franchise history in points, assists, steals and 3-pointers, as the player most integral to the Jazz’s return from the hinterlands of the lottery to the ranks of up-and-coming contenders. And yet, as was the case with Kevin Durant after he traveled the other way across the country to leave a small market for a larger one, it’s a safe bet Hayward’s not going to receive a particularly friendly welcome when he returns to his old stomping grounds for the first time next season … or, for that matter, any time he returns to Salt Lake City after that for a good long while.
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