Celtics

Green appears to have found his way

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Green appears to have found his way

NEWARK, N.J. Gerald Green saunters into the New Jersey Nets locker room, squeezing his svelte, muscular frame in between teammates Shelden Williams and Jordan Williams.

The image is a fitting one for Green, who has indeed carved out a spot for himself inside a Nets locker room that's likely to look radically different a year from now.

To see him in any NBA locker room, regardless of how good or bad they are, is a major step forward for a ridiculously gifted athletic wing man who has been out of the NBA for three years.

Unless you were around him when he arrived like a bolt of lightning straight out of high school, you can't possibly understand or appreciate how far he has come.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers can.

"I am so proud of him; about as proud of him as I am of any guy," Rivers said. "He just needed time to grow up; not just as a player. I thought he was a pretty good player when he walked into the league. He had a lot to work on basketball-wise, but he just had to figure out things in life."

Part of figuring out life is to make mistakes, but gain enough wisdom not to repeat them.

Green admits when he came into the NBA, he was hard-headed and didn't latch on to the lessons that Rivers wanted to teach him.

So the C's cut him loose, a similar fate that would follow him with short-lived stints in Dallas, Minnesota and Houston.

When the Celtics played the Nets earlier this year in Boston, Rivers had a chance to sit down and talk with Green.

"The first thing he told me is, 'if I would have listened to all the things you and your staff was telling me and put it into play, I would probably still be here,'" Rivers recalled.

Rivers, always one with a quick-witted response, told him, "'no, we would have traded you. We needed to get Kevin and those guys.' Having said that, he'd probably be an all-star already and I hope someday he is."

If it were to happen, Green would love for it to be as a New Jersey Net.

He certainly delivered a solid performance in Boston's 94-82 win over New Jersey, as he led the Nets with 15 points off the bench.

"The Nets gave me the opportunity of a lifetime," Green said. "I really can't thank the Nets enough for how much they've done for me, as far as giving me an opportunity and signing me for the rest of the year; giving me my first shot in three years that I've been dying to have. If it wasn't for this organization, I probably wouldn't be here here doing this interview with you."

And this summer, Green's play has catapulted into the being one of the more sought-after free agents.

He wouldn't rule out a return to Boston, but it's clear that his preference - for now at least - is returning to New Jersey.

"This is my home," Green said. "They're the ones that got me out of the dumpster. So I'm not really trying to go anywhere. I'm not I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about finishing out the season with the Nets and be back here next year."

Whether he's with Boston, New Jersey or another team, Rivers enjoys the fact that Green appears to have finally found his way.

"The great thing about Gerald is he was never a bad kid," Rivers said. "We had a bad team back then; we didn't have bad kids. We just had a lot of kids. It's good from a coaching standpoint when you see any of them do well, but Gerald in particular because he was a good kid. He just needed to open himself up and let people in. I think he's done that."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

Celtics 'don’t have time for square one' moving on without Hayward

BOSTON – When Kyrie Irving asked Cleveland to trade him this summer, he did so in part to be more of a navigator when it comes to charting out the rest of his basketball career.

But he knows for him to achieve the kind of individual and team success that he wants, he can’t do it alone.

And that maybe more than anything else, is why Irving has struggled in these first two games as far as shooting the ball.

In Boston’s first two games – both losses – Irving has averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds. Those are decent numbers but pale in comparison to what the 25-year-old has been able to do most of his NBA career.

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And while the team is committed to moving on and focus on winning the next game, there’s no getting around the emotional tug they all feel towards Hayward.

“You can throw as many emotions in there as you want, man,” Irving said. “We know how much G (Gordon Hayward) meant to this team and means to this team. Without him on the floor creating those opportunities we were going over in practice, and we saw in preseason and in the first game, that’s a big void to fill. When you think of it in that aspect, of course you want to be frustrated and disappointed. I’m pretty sure that’s not what G wants. So, for us, you just have to continue to exude confidence in the young guys and be ready to step up to the plate. It’s going to be even higher expectations on our guys in this locker room now to try and fill that hole that G (Hayward) left for us. As one of the leaders on this team, it’s my job to pick us up, as well as with Brad and the team with all the guys. We have to look each other in the eyes and know what to expect every single night.”

That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you consider how quickly things changed for the Celtics at least in the short term with Hayward’s energy.

“I just … as you can see its’ not an ideal situation,” Irving said. “So, as cliché as it is, everybody is probably going to say that’s life. But it is, man. [expletive] happens. Excuse my language. But it does, man. The individual that we have in Gordon, he’s very special. He’s going to fight like hell to get back on the floor. I know he’s already … there’s a fire burning inside of him. You see the amount of support he got. That should tell you the type of person he is. Not only to the Boston Celtics but to the rest of the league. We want him to get back healthy but we all understand that his health comes first. He’s going to do everything possible to get back on the floor and it’s our job to lift him up.”

Irving was asked whether the team would need to go back to Square One due to Hayward’s injury which will keep him out indefinite at this point.

“No. We don’t have time for square one,” Irving said. “I can tell you that right now. We don’t have time to go back to square one. It’s time to just figure it out, moment to moment, and we’ll be alright. I’ve had the unique opportunity to be in some situations that test your character and this is one of those times.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE