SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward was honored for his 30-point, nine-rebound game in a win over the Washington Wizards yesterday with the GEICO Player of the Game award and chose to not stray into politics during his acceptance speech.
“Wow. What an honor,” a clearly overwhelmed Hayward said to the Jazz sideline reporter. “I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I want to think all of my great teammates and coaches, as well as the support staff in this organization. I wouldn’t be getting this without all of you. And, of course, I have to thank my parents for raising me. I never even imagined I could get a GEICO Player of the Game award growing up, but here I am. Hi mom! Hi dad! I did it! Thank you GEICO!” Hayward added, waving to the camera.
There was some debate before the Jazz-Wizards tilt that in the current political climate, a player would take the opportunity upon receiving the GEICO Player of the Game award to go on a political rant, but Hayward chose the traditional route.
“I thought what he said was very nice and classy,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “Everyone has a right to speak out, but I think sometimes people just want to escape for a little bit and not have politics mixed in with their GEICO post-game awards. Gordon did well and I’m proud of him.”
But others ripped Hayward’s silence.
“With the world watching, or at least a part of the world that lives in the Root Sports Rocky Mountain market, Gordon Hayward could have spoken truth to power and made people think about the important issues facing our country,” read an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune. “Instead he chose to stay silent and hide behind the luxury and privilege afforded a GEICO Player of the Game award winner. He could have helped save our country, but he’s content to just save on his car insurance. How sad.”