(Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News/MCT)
The Gerald Green story could’ve ended with him hidden in the obscurity of professional basketball leagues abroad – light years away from the 18th pick of the Boston Celtics of the 2005 NBA Draft. Instead, Green has rebounded from an embarrassing exile from the NBA and is looking to forward to cashing in on free agency this summer.
Gerald Green will be remembered as one of the last players to enter the NBA directly from high school. The 6’8″ swingman’s journey included four teams in his first four seasons, including a stop in Houston which lasted all of two weeks, ending abroad in pro leagues in Russia and China.
Coming into the league, Green was viewed as a prospect by the Celtics and spent time in and out of the NBA developmental league. He came up in the second half of his rookie season to average modest numbers with limited playing time. His second season in Beantown came with highs and lows. After a slow start Green displayed his potential as a scorer when Paul Pierce and Wally Sczerbiak suffered injuries. Green would win the 2007 Slam Dunk Contest besting Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard and Tyrus Thomas. However Green was unable to wrestle the starting job from Sczerbiak and would be part of the deal which landed Kevin Garnett from Minnesota.
After the trade to the Timberwolves in 2007, Green spent the next two seasons looking to fit in with an NBA squad minus the numbers game. Despite impressive performances in Vegas Summer League and the Rocky Mountain Revue as a member of the Dallas Mavericks in 2009, Green spent the next two seasons playing professionally in Russia and China before returning to the D-League in 2011.
On February 27th, the New Jersey Nets signed Green to the first of two 10-day contracts before signing for the remainder of the season on March 18th. In 29 games with the Nets, Green is averaging 13 ppg. while shooting 49 percent from the floor. He has jelled nicely with rookies MarShon Brooks and Jordan Williams. Led by Deron Williams the Nets have struggle without center Brook Lopez this season but Kris Humphries has been great with 30+ double-doubles this season. On April 13th, Green scored 23 points off the bench in a Nets victory over the 76′ers.
I met with Green briefly after the game, one thing I noticed was Green was missing part of his ring finger on his right hand. If that wasn’t impressive enough, his words of conviction were enough to have you pulling for him.
“It’s been a tough haul, but I have a son now and that’s motivation enough. I want him to see me while I’m in the League, I don’t want him to be overseas while I’m still playing. When I came into this league, I was young but I feel like I’m more mature now. God has blessed me with a second chance and I’m going to do everything not to ruin it.”