Gerald Green’s Journey Comes To A Head
Life as a professional basketball player hasn’t been easy for Indiana Pacers swingman Gerald Green. Most young men with his level of talent come into the NBA, either fail or succeed, and then move on with their lives. Green’s story, however, has been one of failure after failure, which is what makes his redemption with the New Jersey Nets last season all the more inspirational.
“I think I’ve been the only guy [on this team] who’s been cut from their high school team, their professional team, an overseas team,” Green said. “It’s crazy, but I was cut from my high school team, but I was a McDonald’s All-American. I got drafted first round by Boston, a first-round pick, but I was cut from the NBA twice, and I was just cut by the Rockets. Then I went overseas for three years and was cut. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been cut, and I played in the D-League twice.”
How’s that for a resume? Of course, all that experience makes Green, still only 26 years old, one of the most experienced veterans on the Indiana Pacers, and that is what has thrust him into a leadership role already on his new team.
“I love the fact that a lot of guys listen to what I have to say, not just as far as teaching them, but them finding ways to get better,” Green said said. “Because I’ve been through it. I always tell them, ‘Don’t take these days for granted, man. This is the best job in the world to have, right here.’
“So a lot of players listen to me when I say something. I always tell a joke about it to the young guys, ‘You know what? It’s going to get better. Let’s just get better.’ If we’re talking and we’re about to go shoot, I’ll just say, ‘Let’s get better,’ and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about… There are 150 kids who get drafted and they’re good. They’re going to be ready to take your spot, so if you can’t improve as a player, you’re going to be lost in the wind.”
That was Green for a while, lost in the wind, but his experiences have seriously humbled him to the point that he can hardly believe he’s finally been given the most stable contract situation of his career. In July, Green signed a three-year deal worth $10.5 million with the Pacers.
“I’m speechless,” Green said. “Every day I think about it, where I’ve come from. Last year at this time I was in China, I was working on my deal and getting ready to go to China, and that team ended up cutting me. It’s just crazy man. Every time I think about it, it’s just like, ‘Whoa.’ I did a complete 360 being there. It was like I turned around and I was different. Every time I talk about it, it’s crazy. I just never envisioned myself here, never.”
Once upon a time, Green was considered arrogant, but obviously he’s come a long way since being drafted by Boston in 2005. Today, he’s an integral part of one of the Eastern Conference’s most promising teams, and there might not be a single player in the entire league more grateful for his opportunity.
“Just being here with an Indiana Pacers jersey, it’s unbelievable,” Green said. “This is a really good fit for me; everybody is still young, we’re a playoff team, and I couldn’t be in a better place. Indiana is the home state of basketball and this organization is trying to change its image.
“For me to be a part of this team, this organization, this history and the way that they’re going into the future, it’s unexplainable… I couldn’t ask better than being here.”
The Pacers couldn’t ask for better either. When all is said and done, $3.5 million a year for a young man this decent and this talented could prove to be one of the better values of the 2012 crop of free agents.