After both Bird and Hayward became lottery picks, you could make a case there was a bit of skepticism for how their games would translate into the NBA. Both could score the basketball in a number of ways, but it was how they scored in such an unorthodox manner that connects them. Scouts and fans were left wondering if they would be NBA stars, or simply college stars turned average NBA players. But that did not stop Bird from being selected 6th overall by the Green and White, and Hayward from closing in on a max deal to Bean Town.
Now, as hinted earlier, there is the obvious factor of race that brings these two together. It doesn’t take a sociologist to see that Bird and Hayward are considered a small handful of white Americans to be crowned an NBA franchise player. Yet, it is the special connection shared between these two players, playing for the same team in the same position a generation apart, that makes die hard Boston fans feel nostalgic.
Still, we would be lying to ourselves if we say race did not play a factor in this comparison. In the racially charged day and age we live in, comparing one person of a certain race or culture to another can be deemed ignorant, close-minded, blah blah blah. Especially when all these two people have in common on the surface is they can both put a ball through a hoop. To all political correctness, I GET IT!
However, it’s the idea that Boston once again has a white guy from Indiana as their franchise player. On top of that, the man responsible for making this happen, GM Danny Ainge, was one of Bird’s closest teammates when they played together in Boston.
Let’s look back at the name deemed to Larry Bird when he played, “The Great White Hope”. This was a nickname given to him by a predominately white city. It was also given because he was essentially “The Only White Hope”.
I hate to use words regarding “White America”, but the NBA doesn’t have, and never will have, more then one “White Hope”. The only difference now is that hope is Gordon Hayward. A player that happens to be going to the same city and team where Larry once raised three championship banners. Playing for a franchise that only needs to get by one team to get to the Finals.
It’s all in the cards for Gordon Hayward to bring back any kid of “Hope” to Boston Basketball. Whether he’s able to do it or not remains to be seen.