Basketball is a passion for most of the people reading this blog. We obsess about roster transactions, rotations, and help defense. We know the difference between a pick and roll and the motion offense. We know players' strengths and weaknesses on the court. Yet we hardly ever really get to know a player's personality.
Sometimes we get glimpses, and if a player has been around long enough (like Paul Pierce for example) we get to see enough glimpses to formulate a Monet like picture of what he's like away from the court. But more often than not, they are more chess pieces than people to us. Which is a shame, because each one is a unique and extremely gifted individual and very often they are very interesting people.
So for some of us, it took a life threatening situation to appreciate Jeff Green's life. Basketball? Who cares about basketball? This is a man's life we're talking about. When he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, playing basketball was the best case scenario - a future goal, assuming everything went right with the surgery. Living. Now that was an immediate goal. Thankfully they found the issue before it was too late. Thankful is exactly what Jeff Green is today.
If you missed it, please, please go back and read the interview our own Josh Zavadil had with Jeff Green. Here's a small blurb:
"The surgery itself was probably the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life. I had to start from, basically, double scratch. Walking was an issue -- just being able to have the stamina was a problem. Everything just kind of shuts down. The nervous system breaks down, and it's kinda like a jump-start. You have to get it going, and it was just difficult.
"You take for granted all of the little things -- whether it's just an easy crunch or ab exercise, or moving to the left or moving to the right. I couldn't lay on my stomach for the first two-and-a-half months. I couldn't lay on my side. The first couple of weeks I couldn't drive. I couldn't do a lot of things, but it helps you appreciate the little things."
To go from being an elite athlete, playing with the best basketball players in the world and more than holding his own, to not being able to lay on his side... that's an incredible reality check.
But here we are, less than a year later, and he's ready to go. Ready to be an NBA player again.
On toughest part of coming back from surgery: "Getting in a groove, getting in a rhythm -- but it'll come. We still have two months until the beginning of the regular season. That stuff will come. I've really been able to do everything -- contact, my movements, my shot is there, my lift is there. Everything is coming along."
On pressure of a big contract after surgery: "[The media puts] the pressure on me. There's no pressure on myself. What I went through, it's a blessing in disguise, it allowed me to sit back, see things from a different point of view. Now I have to go out there and play basketball."
Pressure? Playing a game? Sure, there's pride in one's craft. There's a desire to excel and succeed and all that. But that's not life or death. This guy was already a millionaire and now has several more millions of dollars to play with. But money means nothing to someone without a pulse. Good bad or indifferent on the court, I'm just happy that Jeff will get to live his life and pursue his dreams.
Selfishly, I still have high hopes and expectations for him on the court as well. I hope that this new perspective will help him shrug off criticisms and expectations and just go out and play his game to the best of his abilities. Sure, he'll always be that guy that was traded for Kendrick Perkins, but none of that is his fault. He did sign a large contract, and nobody outside of his agent seems to think that it was a great deal for the Celtics, but he does have the ability to be a very, very good player for us.
It's funny, they say a player that plays heart has "a lot of heart." Jeff Green is just happy to have a heart, so chances are, he going to go out there and play pretty hard. This is all gravy to him, and that could mean great things to the Celtics.