Gordon Hayward is one who is all too familiar with the peaks and valleys of March.
Earning West Region MVP in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Utah Jazz forward experienced the highest of highs as he led Butler to the national championship game against Duke. The title matchup also brought Hayward the lowest of lows, missing a potential game-winning buzzer beater that ended the Bulldogs’ chances at their first ever NCAA championship.
“I just remember the run that we had, making it all the way to the final game and practicing in Indianapolis in front of all those fans,” Hayward recalled, reminiscing on his team’s run during the tournament. “We felt like it was a family.
“When you get that far and you go through all that, it’s definitely something I’ll never forget and I’m happy and blessed I got a chance to take part in it,” he added. “Those were some good memories.”
Despite the heartbreak of his final game as an amateur, Hayward still actively tunes into the tournament every year.
“It’s fun to watch the guys and I always root for close games,” he said. “ Always root for some upsets. (I) just want it to be interesting.”
Golden 1 Center is more than ready to bring the tournament back to Sacramento. The 26-year-old All-Star believes the arena will serve as a great host when action tips off next week.
“This is obviously a good arena to play in and anytime you can host an event like that, I mean it’ll be exciting,” he said. “Fans will be into it and it’ll be fun. It’s an exciting time of the year and one of my favorite times of the year.”