by user

I remember last summer on draft night sitting in bewilderment as Gerald Green fell out of the lottery into the hands of the Boston Celtics. During pre-draft camps scouts drooled over the physical abilities of the high school prospect from Texas and many scouts compared him favorably to Tracy McGrady. The hype for Green was so high going into the draft many publications had him ranked as high as fifth.

Then on draft night disaster struck for Green as he slipped all the way down to Boston with the 18th pick.

Green fell in the draft because some NBA teams had concerns about his attitude and those rumblings in the week prior to the draft turned a snowball of doubt about his character into an avalanche of negative publicity.

Those doubts were reassured during training camp when Green informed the Boston media that he had no desire to play in the D-League this season. Many writers in the media hailed Green as yet another arrogant high school kid, but why would any teenager think otherwise? These are gifted athletes who are never told no and are given the world on a silver platter. Green’s a young man who’s able to make plays like this against grown men in summer league play - why should he be concerned about being a star in the NBA?

I’m reading a great book by former Chicago Bears player Bob Thomas that sums up the plight of a high school prodigy like Green perfectly when it says, “you don’t have to look far for evidence that our culture places athletes on a high pedestal. Neither do you have to search long for examples of athletes who think their exalted position exempts them from the consequences of their actions.”

A month into his professional career Green received a wake-up call when he realized that life as a NBA player wasn’t going to come easy for him.

Instead of pouting and demanding more minutes because he was a high school star and first round pick he kept his mouth shut and tried to learn as much as he could in practice. When that didn’t happen Green came around and realized that the D-League might be a good option for his development.

“When the season started, I didn’t want any part of the D-League,” Green told Sports Illustrated. “I came out of high school in Texas to play in the NBA. But as the season wore on, I wasn’t getting any minutes and I saw this coming. Danny Ainge and coach Rivers felt I wasn’t going to get the practice time I needed to stay on my game. When Danny talked to me, there was one topic: minutes. Danny and Doc thought I needed them and I really wanted ‘em.”

One part of his second half that sticks out in my mind was the play against the Raptors were he finished off the game with a stunning dunk. Following the dunk the Toronto media got their panties in a bunch but Green didn’t’ feed into the hysteria and just focused on playing basketball. Despite some Toronto writers asking for the Raptors “goons” to step up and take care of business, Green just sat back and let his play do the talking. When the two teams met up again a couple weeks later Green sealed the win for Boston no yet another dunk.

Once Green returned to Boston, Celtics fans witnessed a more confident Green that was able to play more minutes and take a bigger role within the team’s offense. Instead of just being an athletic player who could soar through the air, Green had found a sweet shooting stroke.

A Celtics writer follows these sentiments. Justin Poulin loves the play of Green and told me that, “It's incredible that this kid fell to the Celtics at 18. Everyone agrees that Paul Pierce was a steal with the tenth pick, but Green will prove to be even more amazing.”

It’s clear that Green benefitted from his time in the D League and it was great to see a basketball player willing to take some time away from the NBA in order to become a better player.

I find it refreshing to see that Green has been humbled by his experiences and that he has used the trials and tribulations of his rookie season to mature as a basketball player and a man.


Sun 05/14/06, 9:51 am EST

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