December 17, 2011
Two weeks ago, Jeff Green agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal to return to the Boston Celtics for a full season. He had a lot to look forward to, especially after being something of a disappointment as a trade-deadline acquisition last season.
This week, Green learned that he won't play basketball this season. But he still has plenty of reasons to cheer, because doctors caught a serious heart condition that could have threatened his life. From Jimmy Golen for the Associated Press:
Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green will have surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm and will miss the entire season, the team announced on Saturday as it traveled to Toronto for its exhibition opener against the Raptors.
Green is scheduled for an operation on Monday at the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors have told him the operation "should completely repair Green's condition and that he can expect to resume his NBA career next season," the Celtics said in a news release.
If so, the timing of his training camp physical—and the end of the NBA lockout—may have saved Green's life and helped the Celtics avert a tragedy like the 1993 death of Reggie Lewis, who dropped dead on a practice court of a heart condition in the prime of his career.
"While we are saddened that Jeff will not be able to play this season, the most important thing is his health," Celtics president Danny Ainge said in the release. "We were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Jeff's case."
Green also tweeted his thanks to concerned fans on Saturday: "Thank u everyone for ur thoughts and prayers...much appreciated love u all..and I'll be back soon stronger and better than ever I promise."
The memories of Lewis loom over this story, particularly because of the Celtics connection. Because of that, it's hard not to see this as a positive sequence of events rather than bad news for Boston. They'll miss his play off the bench, surely, but Green's health is about much more than basketball. Pending Monday's operation, he should be able to live a full life when the aneurysm could have posed a major danger to his well-being.
We wish Green a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on a basketball court as soon as his health allows it. But even if he never plays an NBA game again, it's easy to be thankful doctors caught this condition before something terrible occurred.
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