Celtics forward Gerald Green, 20, came out of high school to split his rookie season between Boston and the NBA's D-League, and finished by averaging 15 points in the Celtics' final seven games. As he continues his diary for SI PLAYERS, Green is looking to stick.
I'M A VETERAN! O.K., SO MAYBE NOT A REAL VET (MOST OF THE ROOKIES ARE OLDER THAN ME), BUT IT'S DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT FEELING THIS TIME. I've just been more comfortable with everything from Day One. When I left Boston last April, I knew that I had to improve my game. I wasn't happy with my ball handling, and my jump shot needed help. This summer I worked with [former NBA coach] John Lucas at a gym in Houston, where my family lives. We ran ball-handling drills, shooting drills, defensive drills. Three sessions a day. He broke down my weaknesses and he started turning them into strengths. Other NBA guys like T.J. Ford, Sam Cassell and Othella Harrington were down there working with Lucas too. The coaches in Boston are happy with my progress--I'm hoping the work I put in will make me a whole new player.
THAT'S NOT TO SAY THIS SUMMER WAS ALL ABOUT BASKETBALL. I was pretty fried after last season, and I didn't get much of a break when I went home. My sister had a baby girl in July, so when I wasn't working out I helped her and my mom around the house. Babysitting, changing diapers, you know the drill. My mom saw how burned out I was, so she suggested I take a vacation. I always said that if I could ever afford it, I'd go to Paris. So I did it. I went for a week with my girlfriend, Doris Martinez. France is a cool country--we went sightseeing, and the Eiffel Tower is something else. Being there gave me a chance to recharge.
NOW IT'S ABOUT GETTING BACK TO WORK. I know what Coach [Doc Rivers] expects of me, and the type of hard-nosed defender I need to be. I'm ready. There are good players here, and getting minutes will be tough, but if I play my game, attacking the basket and playing that lock-down defense on the perimeter, I'll be all right. Just as long as I don't have to go back to the D-League. I can't tell you how much I don't want to go back. I feel like I'm an NBA player right now. My goal is to prove that every night.