Not all professional athletes want to play at home, in the city they either grew up in or nearby. Kevin Durant famously said he did not want to play in Washington and other athletes have lamented the distractions that come with playing in their backyard, from ticket requests to ghosts of their past.
For Jeff Green, however, playing at home was a big reason he decided to sign a free agent deal with the Wizards earlier this month. Being closer to family, especially at this point in his life, was appealing to him.
"It’s amazing. It’s an overwhelming feeling. To have my family come support not just one or two games throughout an NBA season, now it’s 41, I think that will be great," Green said.
Green was born in Cheverly, MD and went to high school at Northwestern in Hyattsville. He won a state title in high school and earned first-team All-Met honors from the Washington Post.
Green then attended Georgetown University where he was the Big East player of the year in 2007 and led them to their fifth Final Four appearance. The Hoyas, of course, share a home arena with the Wizards.
The NBA has taken Green all over the country and the world. He has long thought about playing for the Wizards, but the opportunity hadn't come up until now, at 31 years old and entering his 11th NBA season.
"All the memories I’ve had here coming through Northwestern, growing up here and going to Georgetown; there are a lot of great memories here. Hopefully those memories can continue to be great being with this organization and doing great things here," Green said.
Over and over when asked about playing at home, Green mentioned his family. Even when asked about whether he had a favorite restaurant he was looking forward to going back to, he pivoted to talk about his family.
Green has two young daughters and is happy for them to know spent part of their childhood in the area where he grew up.
"Having the opportunity to be around my nieces, allowing my daughters to be around my family more, I think it will be great," he said.
The irony of Green joining the Wizards is that he's been very good against them over the years. He has played 31 games against Washington, tied with the Mavs for the most he has ever faced an NBA opponent.
Green once scored 39 points against the Wizards on Jan. 22, 2014 when he was a member of the Celtics. That's tied for his second-highest scoring game ever. He also had nine rebounds and three steals in that game.
Wizards fans have long had a love-hate relationship with Green, who is a local but happened to torment the local team. Now he's returning home, finally ready to be on their side.
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