Head South: An Open Letter From a Heat Fan to Gordon Hayward


If Gordon Hayward wants to win a championship, he should leave the Utah Jazz and sign with the Miami Heat this summer.

Dec 10, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is congratulated by fans after their game against the Sacramento Kings at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-84. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is congratulated by fans after their game against the Sacramento Kings at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-84. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

Mr. Hayward, you don’t know me, a humble Miami Heat fan, and perhaps you never will, but on behalf of NBA history and glory, I thought I’d provide my point of view.

I remember watching you since your collegiate days, particularly that 2010 NCAA Tournament. We were having a March Madness challenge at school, and by luck of the draw, my home room drew Butler.

In what seemed like magic, you led your underdog squad all the way to the NCAA Championship game, collecting Most Valuable Player of the West region along the way.

Although the last second buzzer beating ball just bounced off the rim, it was certainly a run for the ages.

Then I remember your first game in Miami early in that infamous 2010-11 season, and it still brings a bitter taste to my mouth to this very day. The Heat blew a 22-point lead, including a gut-wrenching final minute that eventually forced overtime (that free throw, D-Wade).

You only scored two points that game, but right away I could tell you’d be an impact player in this league one day.

Fast forward to today. You’re coming off your very first All-Star selection and have developed into one of the more well-rounded small forwards in the NBA.

Nearly 22 points per game on 46 percent shooting is impressive, and the outside stroke is clearly still working as well.

With rumors already swirling about your pending free agency, I figured I would go ahead and give you my honest opinion:

Pack your bags, head south, and join the Miami Heat.

Not just for me, or the fans, but for your legacy. Your career.

Yes, you have a very good team right now in Utah, and being fourth in a predominantly tough Western Conference is no joke. Yes, the Heat are merely fighting for the eighth and final spot in the watered-down East.

With that being said, all that Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters need is another playmaker, someone who can create for himself as well as his teammates, with the ability to score from both inside and out.

Your skill set would blend perfectly with the current roster, and your shooting touch will continue to be absolutely lethal, especially on a team that’s been revitalized from three-point range.

Throughout each of their respective careers, all an NBA player wants to do is become part of team tradition, get paid, and — most importantly — win.

We have that here in Miami.

Led by the great Pat Riley, the Heat are one of the most successful franchises over the course of the past 13 years. Five NBA Finals appearances, three NBA championships, six conference finals appearances to go with eight division titles.

Should I have Riley dump the bag of rings on the table for you as well?

From the top down, the Heat are a first-class organization with an exceptional coaching and training staff.

From Riley, to Nick Arison and Andy Ellisburg, all the way down to coach Erik Spoelstra and staff, they all know what they’re doing, and more importantly: they know how to win.

That is in no way, shape, or form a shot at any other coach or organization you’ve suited up for, it’s just the honest truth.

You want rings? They have them.

You want to be paid? They can cut you that check.

You want a winning organization that has your best basketball interest at heart? That’s them.

Too many minutes? Do not fret. Jay Sabol, the training staff, and the depth on the bench have you covered. I mentioned the Heat have one of the best training regimes and staff in all of sports, right? Well, in case I forgot, it’s out there now.

You have a real chance to create an impeccable legacy here, but for that to happen, you must make the move, and make it now.

Yes, I understand that Utah can probably offer you a little more money.

Yes, Quin Snyder is a solid coach and Rudy Gobert is emerging quickly.

You’ve got vets like George Hill, Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and Derrick Favors to lean on, but in the end, will that be enough to challenge the likes of Golden State, San Antonio, or Houston?

Do we even know for certain that that will be enough to propel you past the Clippers in a potential first-round match up?

Making it out of the West is an extremely difficult thing to accomplish, and it’s something that will only increase in difficulty over time as the new-look Warriors and Spurs gain confidence and experience.

Why not trust an easier path to the NBA Finals? We’ve got that here in the East, and have for quite some time now.

Over here, there are virtually no true contenders outside of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and judging from these past two months, maybe not for long.

Bottom line, you should pack your bags, bid the Utah faithful farewell, and take your talents to South Beach.

Next: Report says Gordon Hayward could sign with Miami

In terms of basketball, legacy, and lifestyle, there is no better choice.

I trust you will make the right decision.


Cory Sanning