BOSTON -- When Kendrick Perkins was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green, his close friendship with Rajon Rondo became one of the major headlines following the deal. Their bond wasn't the only one impacted by the move, though.
Green shared a friendship just as strong with Kevin Durant, one that dated far beyond their days as teammates in the NBA. Like Perkins and Rondo, they have not let their professional separation change their relationship two years later.
Green first met Durant through mutual friends as teenagers in Maryland. They became friends quickly, sharing similar laidback personalities and the same fire to play pro ball.
"We're basically the same kind of person -- very humble, very respectful, good guys, and guys that just like to have fun," Green told CSNNE.com. "We don't stress over too much, we just like to chill, I think that's why we clicked so easily."
Green went off to college first at Georgetown University in 2004. Two years later, Durant headed to the University of Texas. Both entered the 2007 NBA Draft, wherein the Seattle SuperSonics selected Durant with the second overall pick. The Celtics drafted Green with the fifth pick and traded him to the Sonics in the Ray Allen deal. By the end of the night on June 28, Durant and Green were teammates.
"We were closer than friends," said Durant. "We did everything together."
The duo played their rookie seasons in Seattle and went through the transition together when the team re-located to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. They went through their ups and downs as they became acclimated to life in the NBA, spending time with one another both at home and on the road.
Green and Durant were together waiting for the team bus in San Antonio on February 24, 2011 when Green received the news he had been traded to the Celtics. The young friends were quickly reminded basketball is a business.
"I wouldn't say we cried, but it was sad because we came in together, everything we'd been through together, and us being from the same area, it was tough for us," said Green. "But it's the NBA. It's not like we can't see other in the summer or work out together."
Echoed Durant, "It was tough for us, but in this league anything can happen, so we've moved past it."
Months after the trade, Green was faced with another change in his basketball career. He was diagnosed with a cardiac condition that would require season-ending surgery, sidelining his second year with the Celtics before it even began.
When Green underwent the procedure last January, Durant was right there with him after Green returned home to Washington, D.C. The Thunder were in town to play the Washington Wizards that month, and Durant made visiting his friend a priority.
"He came to see me and we hung out for a couple hours," said Green. "He told me just to stay strong, keep my faith, and if I needed him to call him and talk. It's kind of a thing where he's there for me if I need him."
The two keep in touch weekly via text message, where the conversations have shifted from recoveries to comebacks. Green returned to the court this season after inking a four-year deal with the Celtics and is establishing himself as one of their key players in the second unit.
He faced off with Durant on Friday for the first time since the trade, scoring a season-high 17 points in the Celtics 108-100 win over the Thunder. Durant finished with a game-high 29 points.
"When we play against each other, we go at it," said Green. "We play hard because we want to see each other do well. That's my brother and I want the best for him."
Green and Durant will not play against each other again until March 10 when the Celtics travel to Thunder territory. They won't let four months get in the way, though.
"Even though he's not my teammate, he's still one of my best friends," said Durant. "He's a guy that's going to be that way forever."