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SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward seems to be good at whatever he does, whether it's basketball or tennis.
It turns out he is also very good at video games.
Esports is one of the fastest growing competitions in the world, and Hayward can understand why.
"I grew up playing video games," he said.
It started with Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda. Then, Microsoft created the Xbox.
"I think Halo was my game after that — once I got my parents' approval," he said with a laugh. "That was the biggest challenge for me. I think it was rated M for mature, and I was 12 at the time. So I had to convince my mom that I was fighting the bad guys, and I was a good guy saving the universe."
As Hayward grew up and developed into a professional athlete with the Utah Jazz, his passion for gaming remained the same.
"For me, it's just another outlet for competition," he said. "So it's just another way to have fun. I play some Overwatch, for sure. I also play a lot of League of Legends. On the Jazz, we always play Fifa."
Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum and Joe Ingles all compete against him. But Hayward said they've never been successful.
"A lot of them play Fifa," he said. "They just aren't any good. I'm the best player on the team. I'm willing to say that, for sure. Until I get dethroned, I don't think you can argue that."
Hayward also enjoys the social interaction that comes with gaming. Tuesday's event was sponsored by Hyper X, and brought plenty of new friends for the Jazz standout.
"This is a way, especially with the way technology is now, that you can actually be on Skype or videoconferencing somebody," he said. "It's like you are hanging out. I get a chance to play with my friends in Indiana."
Now a father of two girls, Hayward doesn't have as much time to play. But when he does, it's a great way to relieve the stress that comes with being an NBA player.
"It also provides just a chance to kick back with some friends," he said. "Relax, have fun and laugh. Have a good time and get away from the job and what else is going on in the world."