Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Other than Rajon Rondo, no one player’s value has been more debated this year than Jeff Green’s. He struggled early on in the season after coming off of major cardiac surgery. But as Jackie MacMullan writes, his play of late has been nothing short of inspiring. And his show of emotion during Boston’s win over the Heat on 1/27 was a welcome sight:
Amid the swirl of that raucous Celtics double-overtime win against Miami on Jan. 27, a sequence unfolded that ignited a sudden flurry of activity on Jeff Green‘s smartphone.
It was when Green clamped onto reigning MVP LeBron James and thwarted him from barreling to the basket. The defensive stop was, in itself, a promising development, but what transpired in the immediate aftermath initiated the cascade of texts and phone calls and email messages.
Jeff Green pumped his fist.
Did you see that?
An even better sign than Jeff Green’s refusal to give LeBron James a driving lane? Green’s subsequent fist pump.
“A lot of people told me, ‘That’s the first time we’ve seen you show any emotion,’” Green said.
Since Green was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder nearly two years ago for the wildly popular Kendrick Perkins, he has displayed a high basketball intelligence and a smooth, athletic arsenal of moves. The problem has been those moves have been maddeningly inconsistent.
Inconsistent. That’s been fans biggest complaint this season when talking about Green. We’ve seen flashes of great play, aggressive, highlight-reel dunks, but the question has been. Why can’t we see this every night? Well since Rajon Rondo went down, the Celtics have been able to rely on Green’s play a lot more:
Since Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending knee injury, Green has been a catalyst for a team that has gone 8-1 in the point guard’s absence. Without relying on Rondo as a crutch for their transition opportunities, the Celtics have thrived by sharing the ball.
Green has averaged 13.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51.1 percent during that stretch by attacking the rim, initiating transition baskets, and contributing defensive stands against elite players such as James and Kobe Bryant.
“Teams come in now, and they know Rondo and Jared [Sullinger] are out,” Green said. “They’re like, ‘Boston’s not as good as they were.’
“So our message is, ‘Let’s be more assertive. Let’s force defenses to respect us.’”
Jeff Green’s minutes per game and production per 48 minutes have increased since Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending knee injury.
The numbers are certainly there for now, but what about the aggression? How often will we see the Jeff Green that makes the ‘heart” sign after a vicious dunk? Or as some have called it “A**hole Jeff Green”? Jeff is well aware that fans in Boston love guys who leave it all out on the floor:
”I know what people want,” Green said. “They want a–holes. They want KG. They want Rondo. Guys who are confrontational” They want KG. They want Rondo. Guys who are confrontational,” Green says of Boston fans.
“I’m the kind of guy who will talk to anybody. When I first got here, I did lots of media interviews. Rondo said to me, ‘Why are you talking to them all the time? You don’t have to, you know.’ But that’s who I am. I was taught to show respect and expect respect given back. “I have my days like everyone else, but mostly I’m the calm guy. I’m the laid-back one.”
Regardless of how the second half of the season goes for Green, it’s truly amazing that he’s playing at this level. I personally have to remind myself sometimes that this man lay on an operating room table, chest cut open, a little more than one year ago. After that procedure, some thought there was no way Jeff would play at all this season:
The 5½-hour procedure left him with a 12-inch scar snaking down the front of his chest. He thanks God each night before he puts his head on his pillow for allowing him to make it through an operation that actually required stopping his heart for an hour and a half while doctors repaired a leaky valve.
“If they hadn’t found it, and he kept on playing,” said his childhood friend Willie Jennings, “we’d be talking about a real tragedy.”
For two days after his surgery, Green lay motionless in his bed, mostly unconscious. Friends came and went, but Green does not remember that. Jennings sat by his bed and waited for him to stir. When he finally did, the first thing Green hoarsely whispered was, “Get the nurse.”
It was another two days before he could sit up, another two after that until he walked. Each time he coughed, he grabbed a pillow to protect his chest.
His agent, David Falk, visited and left thinking, “He can’t play next season.”
“It just didn’t seem realistic that he’d be back,” Falk said.
That was in January 2012. Two months later, Green was walking gingerly on a treadmill. By spring, he was working with a trainer Falk arranged for him. And when he was cleared in July for contact, he showed up at Georgetown’s McDonough Gym to play pickup.
“He’s a gym rat,” Big John Thompson said. “Always has been. The thing that scared me the most once he started coming around again was how hard he was working.
“I pulled him aside and said, ‘Are you all right? Should you be doing this?’”
Green’s medical team told him it will be a full two years before he will completely recover. There will be tightness in his chest. There will be strange pains that will go unexplained. He will have days when he will be completely exhausted.
“It’s the process of your body coming back,” Green said. “It’s been tough to deal with, at times. You kind of go up and down emotionally when your body gets that fatigued and you aren’t even doing anything.
“Then you start playing in the NBA where everything is so high intensity, and it’s kind of a double dose.”
I highly recommend reading the full piece that Jackie wrote on Jeff. It’s fantastic, as are most pieces Jackie Mac writes.
The rest of the links: