In December 2011, just days before the start of the lockout-shortened season, Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green was found to have an aortic aneurysm, which required immediate surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2011-12 campaign. It was the sort of injury that renders discussion of recovery time meaningless — it was merely great news that the condition was caught before it could threaten Green's life. While there are still many legitimate questions about Green's ideal role, his contract, and his penchant for doing just enough to convince gullible fans he's a budding star, it's amazing just to see Green on the court again.
On Wednesday night, Green continued his recent run of big moments in the final seconds of the Celtics' game at the Cleveland Cavaliers. With 2.1 seconds on the clock and Boston down 92-91, Green took the inbounds pass at the top of the 3-point arc, attacked the basket with a few dribbles, and finished a gliding right-handed lay-in as the buzzer sounded to give the Celtics the one-point win. It was also a heck of a lot more graceful than Green's last game-winning layup three weeks ago in Indiana, although style points only matter so much in a situation like this one.
The moment was even more special, though, because Green's heart surgeon (who also operated on teammate Chris Wilcox's enlarged aorta last season) was in the building. Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe has more:
And then Green found him, Dr. Lars Svensson, the man who performed open-heart surgery on Green at the Cleveland Clinic nearly a year ago.
Svensson had seen Green play here before, but this was different. It was special, because Svensson witnessed the man whose life and career he helped resurrect win a game on its very last play. They shared a warm embrace. Svensson told him he was proud. A happy Green reflected.
“Just a year ago and a couple months, I was under that bright light with him working on me,” said the forward, who scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“It’s a blessing to be here.” Then, a moment later, Green smiled and said, “That was for him.”
It'd be cloying to suggest that Green made the game-winner because Dr. Svensson was in the crowd, but it's undoubtedly true that knowing he was present adds to the story. Fifteen months ago, Green had a serious medical issue and the doctor helped save his life. Every day is a blessing, as the cliche goes, but Wednesday's finish happens to be one of the most obvious examples of why the surgery mattered so much.
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