Jeff Green has been in the NBA for four seasons. At Forward from Georgetown University, he was selected by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft (No. 5 overall pick) and was soon traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, only to be traded back to the Celtics in February of 2011.
Recovering from heart surgery this past NBA season, Jeff has kept a positive outlook in his life and professionally with a solid belief that there is really nothing he can’t take on.
Damaris - So where are you from originally?
Jeff - “I’m from Hyattsville, Maryland.”
You played for Georgetown University. Now that you’ve played in both the college and professional arenas, what can you tell me makes a difference between the two levels of the game?
“Well, first of all, you have guys who are a lot bigger. The game is a lot faster, it’s longer, and a lot quicker. So it’s a little bit shocking at first, but after a while you become immune to it and it becomes easier. You play 82 games compared to, the most I played in my 3 years was 33, so yes it’s a lot. You get used to a routine that you have with your team and then it becomes fun.”
Who was your favorite team before you were drafted?
“My favorite team before I got drafted was probably the Washington Wizards, because I’m from D.C. It was at the time when they were winning and went to the playoffs. They had Gilbert (Arenas), Caron (Butler), Antawn (Jamison), and they were doing pretty good for the city. I was a big fan of Gilbert. Antoine was that hyper forward. You know which I consider myself as – a guy that can play multiple positions. I was a big fan of his.”
What player(s) did you look up to as a kid?
“Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, and of course Michael Jordan. Magic being the guy who was 6’9” and being able to handle the ball like he did. Every guy wants to be able to do that. So he was one guy I really, really tried to pattern my game after.”
I hear a lot of athletes say there was another sport they grew up playing full time, did you have one?
“Well, I never played on an official team besides basketball. Around the neighborhood we’d get guys together and play baseball and football. I like baseball, but I could never catch with the opposite hand when I was younger.”
You could never catch, or you couldn’t fit the uniforms?
I couldn’t catch. I wasn’t always 6’9’. I was normal back then, until I hit my growth spurt.”
“Ha. I could fit in a uniform most definitely. I could hit, but couldn’t catch.”
Have you been watching the Olympics? Do you have a favorite sport besides Basketball?
“I’ve been watching a little bit of it. With my schedule I haven’t been able to see a lot. I have been watching a lot of swimming. I saw Michael Phelps hit 19 medals, watched the women’s soccer team play, and gymnastics. I haven’t been able to catch a lot of the basketball yet, but I heard they’ve been playing very well. They’re pretty dominant. Great team.”
What has your summer consisted of so far?
“Working out, 8 am basketball, 10:30 weights. On certain days I do a boxing work out. I’m never home, so I’m spending as much time as I can with my family .”
Last year during the lockout we saw that a lot of players were hitting up street ball games whenever possible. How important is it that you don’t stop playing during the off season compared to other sports?
“It’s big. There’s a certain rhythm to an NBA level of basketball. Whenever you get the chance to play against guys who are on the same level you have to take advantage of it. You lose a certain movement when you don’t play.”
I told Jeff that my jumpshot doesn’t really um…hit the hoop. He called it an airball. I called it a Swag ball. Don’t hate. Moving on…
Many of you in the Heels To Hoops family may know that Jeff is a strong player. He recently had heart surgery to treat an aortic aneurysm. (Swelling of the the body’s main artery)
I trust that you’re feeling much better these days?
“I feel awesome. I actually feel a lot better than I did prior to the surgery. It was a blessing, and I’m doing better now.”
Typically in sports we’re prone to hearing about injuries involving bones and tendons. For any young or old athletes out there who may be dealing with an injury or body problem that isn’t so common around their fellow teammates, what advice do your have for staying strong during those times?
“Always stay positive and keep positive people around you. That’s the only way I made it through my situation. I have great friends, and great family. They did whatever they could to help me stay positive since it was a hard time for me. Know that things could be worse, but if you stay positive you can overcome it.”
The Boston Celtics. I have to ask….how does it feel putting on a Green Jersey? (Ba Doom Chaaaa)
(Laughter) “That Jersey has a lot of history in it. I have a great opportunity ahead of myself. I’m glad that I’m playing again.”
I’m just gonna call you Jeff Money, because Green is money…get it? Moving on…
It was a shocker for many when you got traded, but you know they say everything happens for a reason. What’s the biggest difference between Oklahoma and Boston?
“Oklahoma is a lot slower, a lot of land, and flat. I’m from the city, so I’m used to the heavy traffic. That’s in Boston. Oklahoma didn’t have traffic. Boston is a great city with a lot of variety and restaurants. Oklahoma is a great city too. They have great people, but I’m happy with my current situation. Playing with hall of famers, I couldn’t ask for more.”
Favorite place to eat in Boston?
“There’s a place called Strega on the Waterfront.”
Do you remember the first pair of sneakers you wore in the NBA?
“I think they were a pair of Nike Hyperfuse. I’m sponsored by Nike, so they hooked me up with some white and green ones, because I was with the Super Sonics (Now the Oklahoma City Thunder) at the time.”
Favorite nickname given to you by a teammate to this date?
Back in college I had long hair down my back. They called me the Predator, because the top half was cornrows, and the bottom half were plaited. When I dunked the hair would fly up, and I would look like the Predator.”
Your twitter name is Uncle Jeff Green. Am I supposed to call you uncle?
“Well… since you’re not my niece, then no.”
What’s you number one goal you’d like to accomplish this coming season?
“Win a Championship. I know that’s everybody’s goal, but it’s mine. I love individual stuff, but I’m more of a team guy. You get recognized more when your team wins, so that’s my number one goal.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“In 10 years, I see myself still playing. At Georgetown we have a long line of guys who have played 12 to 15 years so hopefully I can continue that.”
Is there anything else that you’d like to say to your fans?
“To all the Boston fans that read this…banner 18 is on the way.”
Heels To Hoops would like to thank Jeff for finding the time to catch us up on all things Green.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @UncleJeffGreen