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Celtics forward Hayward suffers horrifying leg injury

© GETTY/AFP | Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics broke his left ankle while playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 17, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

NBA All-Star forward Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific-looking broken left ankle on Tuesday, less than six minutes into his first game for the Boston Celtics.

Hayward, acquired by the Celtics from the Utah Jazz in the off-season, came down hard after a leaping cut to the basket to try to catch an alley-oop pass from former Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

Cleveland superstar LeBron James tried to break up the play. Hayward was caught in the air and came down hard, his left leg twisted unnaturally.

As team staff raced to him, the 27-year-old's Celtics teammates huddled together.

The shock was clear on the faces of Cavaliers players, too, as a hush fell over their arena.

Hayward was stretchered off with his left leg immobilized from foot to thigh, sitting up on the stretcher as he was carried off.

After he was examined by medical staff of both teams, the Celtics said he had been diagnosed with a broken ankle.

The injury cast a pall on the opening game of the NBA's 2017-18 season.

The pre-game spotlight focused on Irving and his return to Cleveland after his surprising off-season trade request.

The Cavs' subsequent deal with Boston brought Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland to join James and two other new additions in former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose and veteran guard Dwyane Wade.

But those storylines faded fast in the face of Hayward's injury.

Players from around the league were quick to offer him support via social media.

"God bless you bro @gordonhayward! help him thru this god," tweeted Oklahoma City's Paul George.

George suffered a broken right leg in a training game while preparing with the United States world championships squad and missed most of the following NBA season.

© 2017 AFP