Jeff Green is fresh off finalizing a new contract, believed to be somewhere in the 4-year, $38 million dollar range. We’ve heard bits and pieces about Green as this process has gone along, but now he’s opening up a little more in an interview with Celtics.com.
On what went through his mind after his diagnosis: “So many things. First family, my life… basketball came last… It was tough.”
On how the sense of mortality changed his view on life: “It changed a lot. I view things differently now. I don’t take a lot of things for granted… It was a life changing moment.”
On his recovery process: “It was like starting from scratch. Basically, I felt like I learned how to walk again, run, breathe. Everything… I had to re-learn different functions of my body.”
On the Celtics during this ordeal: “They searched high and low for the best doctor, for the best clinic to go to have the procedure.. everything that I needed to make this procedure easy for myself…. at first I didn’t want this surgery because I didn’t want this long scar, I didn’t want to miss the season, or have to deal with the recovery stages of it. And they made it so every step of the way it was going to be easy. I give them all the credit for who I am now and what I’ve become because without them, who knows where my mind would be.”
There’s much more, including his last quote where he says “I have a lot to prove” when he was asked about coming back and being more assertive. He also talks about supporting his teammates throughout the entire process.
I have two quick takeaways from this:
1: I applaud the Celtics organization for not treating its players like pieces of meat that are interchangeable. They are certainly willing to do business and make tough moves (see: Perkins, Kendrick) but they aren’t a cold, heartless organization. That means something to players around the league. Not only did they support Green through a difficult time, they showed free agents around the league that they care about their players.
2: Jeff Green is aware of the things we are all saying. He knows the “ifs” as well as any of us. I like what I heard from him about taking advantage of his time off to observe where he could help. I think the year off, while obviously difficult, could be the blessing in disguise that he mentioned in the interview.
He came to Boston in the middle of a season and joined a team that was dealing with the heart-wrenching loss of a guy they loved. He spent a few months trying to catch on but he never really could. Now he’s gotten a year-long process to become part of this team and fully understand where he fits.
The ifs still exist. This contract might be a mistake. But there is enough there… the youth, the willingness to learn, the time to figure out the system, the renewed outlook on life… to make me think he’s got a much better shot at living up to this deal than many people think.