Jeff Green has seen it all, heard it all, read it all. He knows the criticisms are out there and doesn’t expect them to stop. His four-year, $36 million contract signed in 2012 led to high expectations and the departure of Paul Pierce last summer presented the opportunity for him to step into a leading role on the Boston Celtics.
He finished the season as the team’s top scorer (16.9 points per game). Green demonstrated moments of dominating athleticism and proved he could take over a game. But the fact that he didn’t do it night in and night out has become a hot topic.
Green doesn’t live in a bubble nor is he naïve to the judgments made about him. Rather than taking them all in, he has chosen to look past them. People have had plenty to say about Green, and as the 2013-14 season came to a close for him and the Celtics, this is what he had to say in his own words.
Basketball Insiders: Basketball-wise, what do you hope to accomplish this offseason?
Jeff Green: Just growing in all areas. I think I’ve touched on a lot this year as far as new things that I figure I can do with the group we have and what (Celtics head coach) Brad (Stevens) is looking for. I’ll try to review film as I take time to rest my body and try to jot down things where I can improve. There’s a couple areas that I feel like I can improve in and that I will improve in. It’s going to be a good summer, a fun summer.
BI: Which areas do you want to improve?
JG: Pick-and-rolls, the low post, get better in the low post, three-point consistency, I think that’s a big thing. Pretty much everything.
BI: You’re a person whose name has been in the headlines a lot because of your contract. How have you dealt with that and stayed focused this season?
JG: I ignore it. I think that comes with being one of those guys who are one, being one of the top guys and two, getting paid as much as I do. I think it just comes with the territory. I ignore it, first and foremost, because people are going to always have something negative to say. I put that behind me and I let them continue to talk. You know, there’s nothing I can do about it. Whatever they have to say, they can continue to say because it’s not going to bother me.
BI: Who taught you how to block all that out?
JG: I think that just came over time. I think Coach Thompson (Georgetown University men’s basketball head coach John Thompson III) played a big part in that because of what we developed and how we grew that program back to the way it was. People are always going to have something negative to say, and I think he taught me how to have a short term memory. Also my first couple of years, the way we played as far as the losing that we went through, having (to be) cold blooded and (ignore) what people say, I think I kind of learned that over time. The vets that I’ve had taught me also how to have a short-term memory.
BI: You are very active on Instagram and Twitter so you’re seeing it. It’s literally in front of you –
JG: Like I said, I don’t mind it. There’s always going to someone, no matter how good you are, no matter how great you are in life, there’s always going to be that one person that dislikes what you do and what you represent. You can’t control that. It’s just something that you have to try to look past because I can’t control what somebody says.
BI: What do you think when people take your attitude as, ‘He doesn’t care’ because you brush it off?
JG: That I don’t care. Like I said, I can’t control what people say. People are always going to have their opinion of how I should live, but it’s my life. People hate on what I do, but again, it’s my life. I saw this great quote, ‘Why hate on somebody when you have the same 24 hours that they do?’ That’s something that when I saw it, it hit hard because it was like, that’s true. Why would somebody hate on me when I wake up just like they do and I go about my day just like they do? And I chose the path I chose.
BI: How much does everything you went through with your health play into this? (Green underwent heart surgery due to an aortic aneurysm and missed the entire 2011-12 season.)
JG: You can’t take things like that too seriously. Life’s too short for me to sit here and go back and forth with somebody who’s angry because I didn’t score 30 points tonight or I didn’t have x-y-z. It’s pointless for me to go back and forth with somebody like that because one, I don’t know what they’re going through and two, I’m living a great life, I’m blessed. I’ve been through a lot and I’m here today still breathing. So there’s no reason for me to go back and forth with somebody like that.
BI: Did you have this same outlook before you went through your health scare?
JG: Yeah, I’ve always been happy go lucky. I’ve always had a positive attitude toward everything. I’ve never let people get in the way of that.
BI: Next season when you come back, what should we expect to see from Jeff Green?
JG: I was talking to Avery (Bradley) about this. I feel like I should come back with a little bit more swagger. Not having an attitude towards people or going out there getting technical fouls, but just having a little swagger to my game. I’m so even keeled that, once again, people take it that I don’t care about situations, but that’s just my demeanor. So Avery was telling me I should have a little swagger. Gerald (Wallace), too. I think that’s probably the biggest thing that I might try to change. I don’t know how it’s going to change overnight, but hopefully.
BI: What do you think swagger would add to your game?
JG: I think it’d just add confidence, continued confidence, for me go out there and just play every night the way I know how to play. Still not care about what people have to say, but they will hate it that much more, which will fuel me a little bit more.
BI: Do you like that people hate on you?
JG: Yes, I love it. I don’t mind it. I don’t mind it at all.
BI: You’re smiling …
JG: Exactly. I love when people say something negative or they have something to say about what I do and how I live because I’ve worked hard to get here, it wasn’t easy. For them to sit here and critique and be mad about what I do, I enjoy it because I know what I had to get through to get here.
BI: What kind of adversity and negativity did you face growing up?
JG: Just the whole process I was going through, being a kid from a small town in Maryland, being able to go to Georgetown, get through Georgetown, make it to the NBA. But the people who are close to me know I haven’t changed. They know I’m still the same person I was when I was in high school. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with who I am. So for somebody to sit there and critique who I am behind a screen or a phone, behind my back, they don’t know me at all so I don’t pay any attention to it.