SALT LAKE CITY — In the disappointing aftermath of the Utah Jazz's season-ending loss at Memphis on April 17, Gordon Hayward's smartphone buzzed with a string of late-night texts.
Some messages included long-distance compliments.
Others offered constructive criticism from afar.
All were anticipated.
This particular flurry of feedback was sent from the familiar 317 area code of central Indiana, and more specifically from the phone of his all-time favorite coach — the shorter, older, wiser Gordon Hayward.
This wasn't an isolated occasion or merely an end-of-season exchange.
Gordon Scott Hayward, the father, has been giving Gordon Daniel Hayward, the son, some type of personal performance analysis since the younger one started playing basketball as a 4-year-old.
After every single game.
The postgame chats became a ritual about 15 years ago inside of a minivan — an old, two-tone tan and burgundy Mazda MPV that the younger Gordon remembers as being "boring."
That Hayward tradition even took on a name of its own: "Van Talk."
Circumstances have drastically changed, but the back-and-forth dialogue continues years later — just on mobile phones, not in a minivan.
This soul-to-cell interaction is one of many ways these Gordon Haywards remain tightly bonded even while the son's job keeps him hundreds or thousands of miles away from his family's home in Brownsburg, Ind., for eight months a year except for that one night each season when Utah visits Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"He's always been there for me," Gordon said of his father. "And I always appreciate him for that."
"He knows the game, and we're on the same page," the elder Hayward added. "We can have those kind of conversations and he can share his successes or his frustrations with me and I can relate to them, understand, and help him get through them."
That usually happens in eight to 20 text messages per game.
Thank heaven for unlimited data plans.