It's not easy to earn love and admiration as an athlete in Boston. There are swarms of Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots who come through the area and never hear a kind word spoken.
For a guy like Jeff Green, it was even more unlikely that he would become a player the city could rally around. While he may not yet be totally deserving of that level of respect, he is certainly on his way in the eyes of many Bostonians.
The biggest reason for his immediate dismissal by the fans was the timing and details of the trade that brought him to the city. Boston's beloved Celtics were rolling and 41-15 before the trade happened at the deadline. The trade sent Kendrick Perkins, a home-grown Celtics draftee, and their most relatable player, to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If you find it hard explaining the love fans now are experiencing for Green, it is even more difficult to explain their attachment to the largely mediocre Perkins. However, Perkins was a hard worker, not gifted with many natural flashy abilities. Because of that, the working class of Boston identified with and loved Perkins.
There was never a moment when he was on the floor that you thought Perkins wasn't giving 100 percent or trying his heart out. With Jeff Green, the opposite was true. He was a naturally gifted athlete and basketball player. Yet, since his time at Georgetown there had been a knock on him that his determination in games came and went in waves.
That's the biggest reason he spent his time in 2011 as somewhat of a pariah among the fans of Boston. His arrival did little to spur the Celtics onward and the flashes of brilliance were mere teases. The Celtics were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, with Green averaging just 7.3 points per game.
However, all things change, and the city's feelings toward one Jeffrey Lynn Green were no different.
As a city, Boston has a soft spot when it comes to serious injuries or sickness. The city is home to some of greatest hospitals and health care facilities in the world. That reputation forms a background of understanding and support.
When Jeff Green was forced into surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, prior to the 2011-12 season, the sympathy votes started pouring in. Nothing about a heart ailment is the patient's fault, and soon Green became a player worth supporting.
Perhaps what endeared him to Celtics fans most was his clear love for the city and team. Without necessity or prompting, Green started showing up on the sidelines for Celtics games during his missed season. He wasn't under contract with the team and would be an unrestricted free agent come the offseason, but for some reason, he felt an attachment to the team and city. Boston fans easily reciprocated that.
When the time came last summer, Danny Ainge wrapped up Green for four years, at around $9 million per year. While there was some light shock at the high number for a player coming off heart surgery, the outcry was considerably less than it could've been. Boston was already coming around on him.
As they say, everyone loves a comeback.
The 2012-13 season has been one of redemption for Green. Not only is it a great comeback story for him personally, but he is exorcising demons from that failed first attempt at being a Celtic. He started the year by playing one good game in every five, and has slowly worked his way into a more consistent player.
Now, in four playoff games, he has cleared 20 points and played very well in three contests. Game 2 was forgettable, but outside that he has been great.
Green's comeback is not yet complete, though. With the Celtics struggling in the playoffs and trailing the New York Knicks 3-1, Green must work to continue extending the series. Game 4 was perhaps his greatest coming out party as a member of the Celtics. After every drive to the rim, Green was whooping it up for the crowd, something we haven't ever seen from him.
Jessica Camerato @JCameratoCSN
This is an emotional side of Jeff Green he hasn't shown before as a #Celtics.4/28/2013, 5:59:30 PM
He had two game-winners this season, both of which came on the road. Game 4 was his chance to start getting involved with the fans from the court. Green's 26 points helped Boston stave off elimination for another game.
More than just his on-court play, this season has given Green a chance to show his true colors to the fans of Boston. From his lengthy stories on ESPN, to great local interviews with CSNNE's Jessica Camerato, everyone has gotten a more complete view of Green this season.
Per Mashable, Boston is the ninth-most socially networked city in the United States. Jeff Green, being just 26 years old and a product of the social media generation, has been very active in the online Celtics community. @UncleJeffGreen is fairly active on Twitter and Instagram (@UncleJG8).
Jeff Green @unclejeffgreen
Blessed to have played every game this yr..the real season starts now..#CelticNation OH WEERDD!!!4/18/2013, 3:14:04 AM
Having that responsible presence online is one of the best things an athlete can do for their image in today's world of professional sports. Green has used social media to connect with a generation of fans who now support him whole-heartedly.
Green's style of play, when he is playing aggressively, is very pleasing to the eye. He has vast wells of athletic ability, which allow him to perform these acrobatic layups and ferocious dunks that the fans respond to and that play well on YouTube the next day. In a generation that appreciates posterizing sometimes more than wins, Green is one of the league's finest.
A lot of Boston's hope surrounding Green's rising star is for the simple reason that they haven't had much luck with his type. The Celtics haven't had a new star wing player in 15 years, as Paul Pierce has manned the position for a decade-and-a-half.
Celtics fans were teased with Gerald Green in the mid-2000s, just like they were with Kedrick Brown and Joe Johnson once upon a time. All these were supposed to be exciting wing players for Boston that never panned out with the Celtics. In fact, they were teased by Jeff Green once too, when he was drafted by the franchise in 2007.
Green, the No. 5 pick, was dealt by the Celtics during the 2007 NBA draft in a big trade for Ray Allen. In that regard, Green has already helped the Celtics through a bunch of postseason runs and a championship.
Still, as fans always do, we want a little more.
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