Utah tech community, you should too.
Gordon Hayward arrived in Utah with scrawny arms and helmet hair, a Jazz lottery selection in 2010. He enters unrestricted free agency on June 1 as an immaculately-coiffed NBA All-Star, a key piece of the most exciting and successful Jazz team in seven seasons. He has improved his points-per-game average in every season (from 5.4 in 2011 to 21.9 in 2017) and managed to say words to Chris Paul that we’ve all wanted to say:
There has been rampant speculation on Hayward’s next move, with the Celtics and Heat emerging as credible threats to sign him away from Utah. As a man who appreciates good Jazz basketball — and loves the direction of our young, talented team — this cannot stand. Luckily, many people in Utah feel this way, most publicly manifested through the #Stayward billboard campaign that has overtaken I-15.
Tech companies know what it’s like trying to find and retain talent in Utah — it’s hard and when you find a fantastic employee, you fight like hell to retain them. Utah Jazz basketball is no different. As a small market team in a sea of titans, Utah is essentially pigeonholed into building through a draft-oriented, developmental approach. This doesn’t mean they never sign free agents — Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw were notable contributors to last year’s squad — but it does mean Utah will always struggle to sign big names when fighting the likes of Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami. This is the way of the NBA world.
Which leads us to Gordon Hayward, a Jazz draftee who spent seven seasons inside the organization, developed his wide-ranging skillset, and emerged as one of the best small forwards in the NBA. He is part of a core that went 51–31 through a non-stop injury bug, won Game 7 on the Clippers home floor, and continually electrified the Vivint Smart Home arena crowd — a crowd that includes season-ticket holders like Ryan Smith, Josh James, Aaron Skonnard, and many more members of Utah’s tech community. For the Jazz’ continued success, he must stay.
In Utah, we love simple things. On a smaller scale, this includes quirks like fry sauce, jello with whipped cream, and dirty sodas. On a larger scale, tech and basketball. I know I’m not alone here as an individual invested in both Utah’s tech community and Jazz basketball. My request is simple: take five minutes out of your day and join the #stayward campaign. Tweet your favorite memories of Hayward, like the game-winner he nailed against the Cavs in 2014. Tweet your favorite aspects of Utah, how it’s the perfect place to live with a wife and two children. Tweet about Utah’s intersection of tech and basketball, Rudy Gobert’s Mount Timpanogos-sized wingspan, or your offer to take Hayward out for a cream-infused Dr. Pepper at Sodalicious. Tweet about all the reasons Gordon Hayward makes sense for Utah and all the reasons Utah makes sense for Gordon Hayward.
Let’s make #stayward happen.