Hayward fractures ankle minutes into debut

CLEVELAND — Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was stretchered off the floor in Cleveland after suffering a horrific-looking ankle injury little more than five minutes into his Boston debut Tuesday night.

The team later announced that Hayward fractured the ankle.

Hayward’s left leg bent awkwardly as he landed under the Celtics basket with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Teammates and Cavaliers players, including LeBron James, rushed to check on him as he was stretchered from the court.

Hayward’s left ankle turned at such an odd angle that teammates stood in shock as he motioned for help from the sideline.

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade knelt with his hand on his head nearby as team doctors attended to Hayward. Shell-shocked Celtics players huddled, with Kyrie Irving burying his head in the chests of teammates Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was taken from the court with his entire left leg immobilized in an air cast. He was immediately taken to the Cavaliers locker room for more evaluation. James and former Celtic Isaiah Thomas, who recruited Hayward to Boston over the summer, went into the Cavaliers locker room where he was receiving medical attention from both teams.

Players across the league immediately reacted on social media to the injury, including Paul George, who broke his leg in a gruesome injury in 2014.

Added Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team was readying for its season opener against the Rockets: “It was terrifying. The whole coaches’ office was just devastated watching it. It just shows the fragile nature of what we do.”

The Celtics signed Hayward to a four-year, $ 128 million contract in July, the first of two All-Stars they acquired this summer after acquiring Irving in a trade with the Cavs.

Hayward’s arrival reunited him with his former Butler coach Brad Stevens.

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