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The NBA playoffs haven't yet started, but a Utah Jazz fan has already put a plan in motion to try to convince Gordon Hayward to forgo thoughts of leaving for another team in free agency this summer.
Heber City's Garrett Jones put up a GoFundMe campaign Tuesday to raise $5,000 for a billboard featuring a photo of the Jazz star that would read "Stayward."
"I just wanted to give this passionate fan base a place where we could all come together and say, 'I care about the players on this team and am proud to be a Jazz fan,' Jones said in an email interview. "This was just an idea that could show one of our players that we care."
Jones said he's "shocked" how fast the campaign has taken off, rising to $1,400 of the $5,000 goal by 3 p.m. Wednesday, with 145 contributors.
"I'm not foolish enough to think that a billboard is what is going to convince Hayward to make a decision that so deeply impacts his life, family and career," Jones said. "My hope is that it's just seen as symbol for the passion this fan base has."
Hayward has spent his entire six-year career with the Jazz and has posted career-high averages in points (21.8) and rebounds (5.5) en route to his first All-Star selection this season. He'll hit free agency July 1.
Jones said his favorite Hayward memory was the buzzer-beater the Jazz forward hit against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 while he was in attendance at the Jazz arena.
He said any excess funds from the campaign will be donated to Hayward's Butler teammate Erik Fromm, who is attempting to raise $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to honor his late father.
Jones he isn't trying to be a distraction for Hayward ahead of the playoffs, but wanted to make a gesture to show Hayward's importance to the Jazz and in the community.
"There aren't many players who are as great as Hayward is, and who fit the Utah culture, as well as Hayward does," he said.
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