Gerald Green has six blocks in the 11 games he's played for the New Jersey Nets since signing his first 10-day contract with the team on Feb. 27. Two of those blocks came in the Nets' 102-94 loss to the woebegone New Orleans Hornets on St. Patrick's Day, which coincided with the end of his second 10-day contract with the team.
One of those blocks, on an attempt by Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack, gave everyone reason to hoist a pint, sing along with blaring pipe bands and toast some of the sickest springs in the league today.
To me, the second-coolest thing about this isn't the block itself or just how high Green jumped — it's that he knew exactly where he was in the air and calmly extended his left arm to brace against the bottom of the backboard to prevent himself from hitting his head on the glass. Because that's a concern for Green, who is 6-foot-8. Hitting his head on the glass.
(The coolest? That it came with the Nets holding a two-point lead and less than two minutes left in the game. That it, at least theoretically, could have mattered. How many Gerald Green plays can you remember where that was the case?)
(OK, also, how high he got. His arm is over the square. Can you do that? I, like, SUPER can't do that. That is cool. This is cool. It's all very cool.)
Cool as it may be, though, the play doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, of course. When my esteemed associate Eric Freeman wrote in praise of Green's alley-oop of the year against the Houston Rockets just eight days ago, he said as much — we know Green's an elite athlete with hops for days, which is what made his inability to develop into a productive NBA player during his first four seasons in the league all the more frustrating.
We're not likely to learn how Green can perform in high-stakes, high-pressure environments anytime soon, either. His Nets are now 15-31, the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, and it'd be something of a miracle if they managed to have too many moments that matter over the course of the next 20 games before the season ends.
But it's a miracle that the 26-year-old forward will have a chance to influence, because the Nets announced Sunday that they have signed Green through the end of the season. Green hasn't undergone some gargantuan metamorphosis since he's come back into our lives — he's still taking more 3-pointers than he should, given how frequently he hits them (a sub-league-average 34.4 percent), he's no great shakes as a rebounder or defender, and his primary value is still being able to run fast and jump high.
But you know what? There is value to that. Especially if you work really hard to run really fast and jump really high when you get the chance to, and finish 81 percent of your chances at the rim while doing so, and get fans excited while watching a terrible team, and give yourself a chance to grow into who you are and what you're doing. Green's doing that, offering a handful of the relatively few highlights in another lost year in Newark, and Nets general manager Billy King has rewarded him for it.
Green, for his part, is grateful. From Colin Stephenson at the Newark Star-Ledger:
"This organization, man, has really blessed me," Green said. "I'm just happy to even be a part of it. [...] just to hear that from my agent, saying that the team wants me here, it's just — it's almost mind-blowing, for all I've been through. I'm just very excited, but I've still got to keep going, keep fighting, keep fighting to try to be better, to try to help better this team."
Green will probably never live up to the visions of the next Tracy McGrady that some had watching him rise and fire as a kid. That's fine. Most people don't get to their ceilings. Regardless of where his career goes from here, his run in New Jersey — coming off two years in Russia, a year in China and a stint in the D-League — has proven that he's a professional. There's worse things in the world to be.
Is the clip above not rocking for you? Feel free to peruse the swat elsewhere, thanks to our friends at The Hoop Scene.
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