As he approached his teammates, Green and Jason Terry mirrored each other as they did Cam Newton’s “Superman” celebration, pretending to tear open a shirt.
That celebration is rather ironic, considering exactly a year ago on January 9th, doctors had to open up Green’s chest to perform major heart surgery.
Green has a long scar down the middle of his chest now, a graphic reminder of the work done to repair an aortic aneurysm. Green won’t forget how much work it took to get back on the court and playing basketball again.
For every solid game played by Green, it was followed by a disappointing performance or two. Not even a 17-point contribution to a big win over his former Oklahoma City team was a remedy, as Green shot 1-12 in his next two games.
Green is having more good nights as the season progresses. In December Green scored in double digits in eight of 14 games. Five games into January, Green has scored at least 10 points in three of five games.
It seems like Green is finally turning the corner towards being consistent.
Rarely does a player return from major surgery and immediately is the same person he was before going under the knife. But building confidence after heart surgery isn’t the same as the recovery from a repaired limb.
Soreness in a knee after reconstructive surgery isn’t as frightening as wondering if one’s heart can handle several sprints up and down the court. It's one thing to get hit on the forearm after the bone healed. It’s another wondering if a collision during a drive to the basket could cause a traumatic heart event.
After 30 games of bouncing off bodies and spills to the ground, Green can finally believe the doctors. He knows he’s all right.
Green played very aggressively in the last two games, repeatedly taking his defender off the dribble and going to the rim. While Green has the ability to shoot three pointers, his offense is better when he doesn’t settle for standing behind the arc.
The dramatic improvement of the bench will only help Green maintain his recent play. With the second unit settling in with Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and Green, the production spiked to 39 points against the Knicks and 47 against Phoenix.
This doesn’t mean that Green won’t experience any lows anymore. Everybody has bad games during an NBA season. Green won’t be immune to the typical fluctuations. But after some early season struggles, Green is on his way to fewer bad games and more reasons to celebrate.
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