Race not reason for Hayward’s popularity

I heard a media member saying the other day that Gordon Hayward is a great fit for Utah. He mentioned the swingman’s versatility, talent and, well, his race. The insinuation was that Hayward is a natural fit for popularity in Utah because he is white.

Deseret News photo

Deseret News photo

I hear that often and it’s easy see why people draw that conclusion. Andrei Kirilenko was popular in Utah, as were John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek and Kyle Korver. But guess what? Greg Ostertag wasn’t.

That’s because Ostertag wasn’t very good.

Saying Caucasian players will be especially popular in Utah is failing to give Jazz fans credit. They want players that can play. Karl Malone remains one of the two or three most popular players in franchise history. He drew his share of criticism, but that was related to his controversial moments and his departure for the Lakers.

Deron Williams was grumpy and standoffish, but had a huge following in Utah. Carlos Boozer had a big following, though his detached attitude kept him from being as popular as he might have been. Adrian Dantley had problems with Jazz management, but fans loved him. The reaction when he had his number retired in Salt Lake was stirring. Thurl Bailey, Darrell Griffith and others were also beloved.

Hayward is popular because he’s an exciting young player who is dedicated to improving. Claiming someone will be a bit more popularĀ  because his skin matches the majority of the audience seems shallow. Give Jazz fans some credit. If the guy can play and he’s a good person, he’ll be popular — whatever his race.

Kevin Durant would be popular in Utah. Deliriously popular.

Jazz fans just want to see the next hall of famer.

[poll id=”308″][poll id=”309″]


  1. Jacob

    Not to mention Millsap and Carroll have been the most popular for a few years now. Just because our white players end up being pretty dang good does not make us the only team with white players. Saying Hayward is popular because of race would be like saying Larry bird was only considered great because he was white. It is ludicrous.

  2. Mark Stoddard

    Is this race nonsense ever going to cease? If you win a championship for me, AND you have some character and personality, you have my vote. Loved Malone. Nut case but a great guy and great ball player. And if you don’t have much personality like Stockton but can play, love you too. And if you don’t win the championship but play like it and are constantly great, I can live with that. But…what does any of this have to do with race. Can’t stand white or black racists. Ughhhh!

  3. Jefferson

    Gordon Hayward definitely “stands out” on the Jazz Team because he is white.

    But that has absolutely nothing (NOTHING!) to do with his popularity amongst Utah fans.

  4. NevadaCoug

    A better poll question would have been: who is your favorite Jazz player NOT named Stockton or Malone. It’s obvious those two are going to be at the top.

    I’m not a big follower of the Jazz, or the NBA in general. I knew Gordon Hayward is a popular player for the Jazz, but had no idea he is Caucasian; nor is it something I even care about.

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