No respect? For Hayward, that’s a good thing

The story first ran on the Standard-Examiner’s website last weekend and it probably would have gone unnoticed if not for a reader who commented on it.

The Associated Press version of the Jazz-Washington Wizards game story from last Saturday listed Utah guard Gordon Hayward as “Gordon Haywood.”

Nice.

A reader calling himself “Sam” caught the mistake and commented on the story, noting: “Can’t take this article seriously if they keep calling him Haywood.”

I should point out it was an Associated Press story, which we picked up and placed on our website. A subsequent story, which ran in Sunday’s newspaper, got Hayward’s name right, either because it was caught on the A.P.’s end, or by a Standard-Examiner employee who noticed the error.

Either way, the folks covering the game in Washington didn’t know enough about Hayward to get his name right. For them, I’d say that’s embarrassing. For Hayward, I’d say it’s great.

Not exactly a self-promoter like, say, LeBron James or even Metta World Peace, Hayward has the added burden of playing in one of the NBA’s smallest markets. Those who watch him on a regular basis know he’s a tough-minded, scrappy player.

Opponents don’t always like playing against him because his motor doesn’t stop.

My personal hunch is that, because he looks like “Opie Taylor” from the Andy Griffith Show, he simply doesn’t get a lot of respect, either from opponents or opposing journalists.

Again, they should be embarrassed by that. He, however, should relish it because it means he’s still anonymous and when he’s flying under the radar like that he’s even more dangerous.

Since being moved to the bench, where he’s in line to be a bigger part of Utah’s offense, Hayward has scored 30 points on 9-for-22 shooting. He has also recorded six assists, five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal.

His eight blocked shots rank 5th on the team; his 10 steals are 4th.

Hayward doesn’t seem to care what others think about him or, for that matter, whether they know how to say his name or not. Instead he just goes out and plays, which for Jazz fans is a good thing.

Of course that’s not to say he’s passive. Granted, it’s taken him a while but Hayward beginning to define himself as an NBA player. He’s tougher and a much better defender than he gets credit for and don’t look now but he’s learning to play with a chip on his shoulder.

Keep an eye on him this weekend when the Jazz play the Sacramento Kings in back-to-back games, Friday at EnergySolutions Arena and Saturday in Sacramento. In the past the Kings have tried to intimidate him. With another year under his belt I’m curious to see how he responds if they try that tactic again.

 

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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