(AP) – Gordon Hayward watched as the shot that would have provided one of basketball’s greatest endings soared toward the rim.
No tears, either.
“I’ve never cried after a game,” Hayward said. “Just not something that I do.”
Nor does Hayward recall any of his Butler teammates bawling after his halfcourt heave just missed at the buzzer of last year’s NCAA championship game, giving Duke a 61-59 victory.
But Hayward, now a rookie with the Utah Jazz, understands that some players do cry. And like most competitors, he doesn’t blame anyone for getting emotional when they’ve poured all their effort in and come up just short.
“I’ve cried as a coach when I didn’t feel like I did what I needed to do, and we had an emotional loss,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s an emotional game. It doesn’t mean you quit or were afraid. You hurt so bad because you lost. You’re out there scrapping and clawing, scratching and trying to grind a win out. You’re emotional about it.”
Letting the media know it happened, however, is a different story.
“That’s something you’re supposed to leave in the locker room,” Oklahoma City All-Star Kevin Durant said.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the Heat’s 87-86 loss to Chicago on Sunday that there were “a couple guys crying in the locker room,” which brought the Heat more scrutiny than their four-game losing streak ever could have.
Some New York Knicks tried to guess which Heat players were doing the weeping as they prepared for their game in Atlanta. The aftermath of the Heat’s loss dominated the headlines, though not because Chicago had just increased its lead over Miami for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
This was because of “Crygate,” as Spoelstra called it.
“I don’t care whether a guy cries or not. I don’t see what difference it makes. But then again, I don’t have to fill three hours of a sports talk show. Those guys need something to talk about,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Mike and Mike in the Morning, how long are they on — three or four hours? I guess there’s just not enough games to just talk about the games. So you’ve got to try to figure out who was crying in the locker room. I’m just glad that’s not my job — trying to figure out who’s crying.”
Spoelstra was amused by the attention and clarified Monday that he saw glossy eyes, but heard no whimpering.
Not that it matters. There is crying in basketball.
“He’s just being honest and it happens and there’s nothing wrong with crying,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “The Speaker of the House cries. It’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’m glad they care.”
Yes, John Boehner is known to shed some tears, but that’s not nearly as delicious as the idea that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade needed consoling after both missed shots in the closing seconds of another loss for perhaps the NBA’s most hated team.
They knew fans would be against them after their high-profile union with Chris Bosh in the summer. What they may not realize is how many have experienced what they felt.
Durant said he cried last year after the Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers as he reflected on his team’s breakout season. His coach, Scott Brooks, said he still recalls losing in the Northern California section finals his senior year in high school.
“The entire team was crying, I’ll never forget it,” he said. “To this day, it is my best experience as an athlete. I was weeping like a baby. You care. If you care about something, you’re emotional.”
But he wouldn’t comment on whether he would mention it outside the locker room — even if apparently many coaches have seen it inside those walls.
“Well, I mean, we all have. But it’s not something I’d comment on or tell you who or when. But I think we’ve all had that,” Van Gundy said. “Usually it’s playoff-type situations. Probably the only time I’ve seen it is games that end your year in the playoffs. But yeah, I’ve seen it.”
Michael Jordan clutched the ball and wept on the floor in the moments after winning his first title following the murder of his father. Many others have sobbed, either because of the joy of victory or the pain of defeat.
Hayward isn’t one of them.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone cry,” he said. “They may go home and shed some tears or something, that’s up to them. If they want to let it loose and shed some tears, then go for it.”
Just don’t let the media know.
Associated Press writer Kyle Hightower in Orlando, Fla., and freelance writer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press