As often as we are reminded about it, it is still easy to forget about the fact that Jeff Green (and Chris Wilcox by the way) were operated on for heart surgery just over a year ago. To see him thriving now is something special for us all. It was a little extra special for the man that performed the operation.
And then Green found him, Dr. Lars Svensson, the man who performed open-heart surgery on Green at the Cleveland Clinic nearly a year ago. Svensson had seen Green play here before, but this was different. It was special, because Svensson witnessed the man whose life and career he helped resurrect win a game on its very last play. They shared a warm embrace. Svensson told him he was proud. A happy Green reflected. "Just a year ago and a couple months, I was under that bright light with him working on me," said the forward, who scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds. "It’s a blessing to be here." Then, a moment later, Green smiled and said, "That was for him."
Reports are that Green still feels winded from time to time. And considering the severity of the procedure, nobody could blame him if he was cautious or tentative at times. However, Green has made great strides towards becoming more aggressive. In fact, as his team has needed him more, he's stepped up more.
"It’s big, the play in Indiana is what got him really going, when he finished with a layup, and that was a hard layup in Indiana," Rivers said. "And he wanted the ball [on Wednesday], he asked for it. When you’re in a timeout and guys are staring at you, they are telling you they want the ball. Most guys look down because they don’t want the ball. But he clearly wanted the ball, I sensed that, and I think everyone sensed it."
As for the play itself, it was a thing of beauty. It was made possible by an extended official review of a ball knocked out of Paul Pierce's hands. That gave Doc the time to make the call and let Green take the last shot.
Rivers' call was brilliant in its simplicity. Green set a screen for Jason Terry, who acted as a decoy before circling back around to return the favor and screen Green's man. Green curled around the pick -- this part was so important, getting him on the move against a reacting defense -- as his defender, Luke Walton, ran into the Great Wall of Terry. Walton couldn't recover in time, Livingston and Ellington were late on the help, and Green swooped in between all of them for his second game-winner of the season, which finished Boston's 21-6 game-ending run.
Great to see him step up. Great story to see how he shared the moment with his doctor.
(And I'm really glad I got to write about this instead of the way the team was playing in the 2nd and 3rd quarters last night.)