Jeff Green 'thankful for everything'

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Jeff Green 'thankful for everything'

WALTHAM Jeff Green was with his family for Thanksgiving a year ago, with the biggest care in the world being whether he and the rest of his NBA brethren would have a season to play.
Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for most and Green is no different.
But for him this holiday has a deeper, more significant meaning now.
That's what happens when life throws you the ultimate change-up that puts you in an Intensive Care Unit in Cleveland for a week for heart surgery and puts your life -- not just the game of basketball -- in jeopardy.
And as if that wasn't scary enough, Green told CSNNE.com that doctors had to go back inside a second time to repair some internal bleeding which extended his hospital stay.
"I didn't realize that (happened) until I left the hospital and I was talking to one of my good friends," Green told CSNNE.com. "What I had was bleeding internally. So they had to go back in and fix what it was."
Green added, "Everything that I have ever owned, everything that I have ever gained, everything I ever accomplished, was almost taken away from me in a matter of hours."
Jeff Green sits on one of the cushioned seats aligned against the wall at the Boston Celtics practice facility, his mind taking him yet again on a journey into his past, the present and what he and the C's hope will be a bright, promising future.
The 6-foot-9 forward will be the first to tell you that he has a lot to be thankful for today; first and foremost for being alive.
"To reflect on that makes me appreciate everything that I've done, everything that's coming towards me negative or positive, makes me appreciate it that much more," he said. "Who knows if I didn't find out? I might not be here. I might not ever play basketball again. I might not be alive. With the whole incident, it was a blessing. It opened my eyes and makes me appreciate a lot of things a lot more."

GETTING THE NEWS
After what had been a challenging adjustment period following the trade from Oklahoma City to Boston in the spring of 2011, Green was eager to prove his worth to Celtics fans heading into last season.
"I was feeling great," Green said. "I was ready."
During the lockout, Green still prepared himself as if there would be a season with workouts and pick-up games around his alma mater, Georgetown University. He participated in basketball charity events like the one hosted by Rajon Rondo at Harvard University, and wowed the crowd with electrifying dunks and a steady perimeter game.
All that remained was an NBA season and a new contract from the Celtics. Once the lockout was over, the C's inked Green to a one-year deal worth 9 million.
"We were very optimistic about Jeff and the role that he would play in our team heading into last season," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of Basketball Operations, told CSNNE.com in an earlier interview.
But a routine physical following the agreement changed everything.
"Like I said, I felt good, I felt ready," he said. "But that, obviously, wasn't meant to be."
There were some abnormalities detected involving his heart that prompted more tests.
Green initially shrugged it off, chalking it up to him being a bit more fatigued that day than usual and that with additional tests, it would work out fine.
But further tests only confirmed those initial findings.
Green left a preseason practice in December early to meet with doctors, as well Ainge, at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"They took me into a small room, just me, Danny, the doctors, and my agent (David Falk) on speaker phone," Green recalled. "And they ... they just told me. The measurements of your left valve ... you can either run the risk of not doing anything and it rupturing and being fatal, or get surgery."
There was no choice in Green's mind.
"'Surgery it is,'" he said.
Green was diagnosed with an aortic root aneurysm that would require immediate surgery.
And from there ... silence.
Like still waters that run deep, Green's silence masked a rush of emotions and concerns and fears that truth be told, Green simply could not express or put into words.
"I was in shock," said Green, visibly subdued as he recounts that day. "That's how I felt. It was like I just got shot, hit with a stun gun. Everything from my family, basketball career, my life ... I was seeing life flash before my eyes, that's what happened. You hear people talk about it, but you never believe it until it happens to you. I played back everything. Me getting drafted, going to Georgetown, me playing basketball ..."
And then it fades to black, bringing Green back to the reality that at this moment, all of those memories could be just that -- memories -- with no future add-ons unless this surgery works as planned.
"It was like boom ... that's all put on halt," Green said.

ANOTHER FIRST FOR GREEN ... SURGERY
While there have been questions about Green throughout his career, health has never been one of them.
Not including last year when his heart surgery kept him out for the entire season, Green has appeared in 327 out of a possible 340 regular season games between Oklahoma City and Boston.
"That's why the whole idea of me needing surgery, heart surgery at that, was so tough for me," Green said. "I had never had surgery before that; I had always been healthy, or at least I thought I was."
The surgery took more than five hours, with Green's heart stopped for about 90 minutes in between.
But even with his heart fixed, Green's thoughts immediately weren't on getting back to the court.
"There was so much I had to re-learn," Green said. "In a lot of ways, it was like being a baby all over again."

ROAD TO RECOVERY
After being released from Cleveland's Clinic, Green spent his first few weeks back home sleeping on the family couch.
"I couldn't lay in my bed," he said. "It's soft. I couldn't lay straight in my bed. I couldn't stretch out my chest or lay on my stomach for a while."
So Green essentially slept with his feet propped up on the couch, his body forming the shape of an 'L.'
"That sucked," he said. "I didn't get much sleep those first few weeks, months after surgery."
And when Green was able to sit up in his bed, he initially needed help getting out of it. From there, he progressed to getting himself out of bed by pulling on his shorts to lift one leg up, then the other.
It would be several weeks before he could do something as simple as turn to his left or right, and not feel pain.
For a player known for his athleticism, those initial days following surgery were a cruel reminder of just how special his set of skills are.
"Because by me being who I am," Green said. "Being able to run up and down the floor, being athletic, being able to move side to side as quick as I can, and all of sudden I can't sit up by myself? I can't move? I can't turn my torso to the left or right? It makes you appreciate those things a little more."
It also helps having a teammate like Chris Wilcox, who also underwent surgery for an aortic aneurysm just a few months after Green did.
Like Green, Wilcox sees this holiday from a different perspective as well.
"I definitely have a lot more to be thankful for this year," Wilcox told CSNNE.com.
And while the goal for both Green and Wilcox is to contribute as much as they can to help the C's, both understand that it's going to take time before they are able to contribute at a level each is accustomed to with the kind of consistency they would like.
Each player has had their share of critics for their slower-than-expected start which truth be told, doesn't make them all that different than the rest of the Celtics (6-6) who have collectively lost three of their last four games.
"A lot of people, they have a lot of stuff to say," Wilcox said. "But me and Jeff, we've been through a lot. For us to be at this point in our lives and doing what we love and we're just six, seven months, nine, 10 months out of heart surgery for Jeff, ... people expect you playing ball, you should be doing this, you should be doing that, but it takes time after something like what we've gone through."
Doctors told both players that it would likely be a year or so before they were completely back to full tilt.
"And we're out here just months out of surgery," Wilcox said. "That should tell you how much we both love this game, love being a Boston Celtic. This is the kind of dedication we have to this game we love."
Green's critics have been especially vocal in part because the C's signed him to a four year deal worth 36 million, which in the eyes of some is seen as excessive for a player who missed the previous season following heart surgery.
His agent David Falk said that there were avenues in which Green could have potentially landed a more lucrative deal elsewhere.
"But he made it clear that Boston is where he wanted to be," Falk told CSNNE.com. "And I give Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers and the entire Celtics organization a lot of credit. The way they handled Jeff's situation was first-class, all the way. There's a large reservoir of good will that exists between Jeff and the Celtics, and Danny and Doc, as well as myself.
Falk added, "there was a good bit of give-and-take on both sides. It wasn't like we were miles apart to start. I explained to Danny, Jeff was willing to take less money to return to Boston. It's where he wanted to be."
Green impressed many with a stronger-than-anticipated preseason in which he was arguably the Celtics' best player. He averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and one blocked shot.
However, his play during the regular season has not been nearly as impressive.
In 12 games this season, Green has come off the bench and averaged 7.9 points in 21.3 minutes -- both career lows.
Green will be the first to tell you that he has to play better. But if there's one thing he has learned throughout his journey back to the court, it is patience.
Not only with his game, but also with people who expect him to contribute significantly right away.
"That's why you see me smiling everyday," he said. "I enjoy what I have, I enjoy what's going on whether it's good or bad. At the end of the day, through everything I've been through this whole year, as far as personally or with the surgery, I'm thankful for everything."

Patriots making contract statements with OTA absences?

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Patriots making contract statements with OTA absences?

Malcolm Butler was one of many not spotted during OTAs on Thursday when the media got a looksee at one of the practices.

Butler wasn’t the only one. But he did stand out as a missing player who hadn’t (to my knowledge) had a surgery but did have a contract that needs addressing. Another one? Rob Gronkowski. If we really want to extend it out, throw in Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan.

This is the point where it’s important to point out that these workouts are voluntary – VAW-LUN-TERR-EEEE! Players don’t have to be there. Additionally, I’m not even sure Butler or Gronkowski (or Ryan and Harmon) weren’t at the facility. All I know is they weren’t on the field. And, per usual, nobody’s tipping his hand as to why.

But we do have this, relative to Butler. ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote Sunday that he “wouldn’t be surprised if it was related to his contract status.” Reiss said that Butler “told teammates and friends he plans to push for an adjustment to his contract before the 2016 season, and staying off the field in voluntary workouts would be a decision that limits injury risk and also could be viewed as a statement to the organization that he's unhappy with the status quo and/or the movement/specifics of contract talks.”

In the same vein, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gronkowski opted out as well for the same reason, especially since he threw out a tweet that signaled dissatisfaction with his pact in March.

But in terms of a statement, not going to OTAs is more of a throat-clearing than a noisy proclamation.

Not to minimize the move if Butler, Gronkowski or anybody else is actually staying away because of business. The Patriots usually enjoy almost perfect OTA attendance. Also, there hasn’t been much contract strife around here for the past five seasons.

Money matters were an annual issue for the Patriots from about 2003 through 2010. Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Ty Warren, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Randy Moss, Adam Vinatieri, Mike Vrabel and – quietly – Tom Brady all had their contract dances back then. But the only one that got hairy in the recent past was Wes Welker.

It’s still too soon to know if any of these will get contentious. When will we know? When either a player or his agent spouts off. Or, when someone’s a no-show at mandatory minicamp beginning June 7.

That would amount to a shot across the bow. Of all the players likely to take that shot, Butler seems a reasonable bet. His base pay this season is $600K after a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015 that saw him check the opposition’s best wideout on a weekly basis. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year. He deserves longer-term security than he currently has. Gronkowski has a lot less to kick about. He may make less than lesser players, but he also was the league’s highest paid tight end when he was missing scads of games due to injury.

After Butler, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower would figure to have the strongest cases to want new deals and want them snappy. Ryan and Harmon would be right behind those two. Then Jabaal Sheard.

Sheard, Hightower and Collins were all on the field Thursday. 

Can the Patriots get all these guys reupped? Will they even try? How do they have them prioritized? If the guy who howls loudest gets to the front of the line, the time to make some noise is close.

But we have yet to hear any of these players loud and clear. 

Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia and Bogaerts Stay hot

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Quotes, notes and stars: Pedroia and Bogaerts Stay hot

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays:

 

QUOTES

 

* “I benefited from good defensive plays and hard hit balls at people and guys just making plays. Whether you feel good or not you have to have good things happen out there on that field.” David Price said on his successful start against Toronto.

 

* “He woke up this morning more sore than when he left here last night . . . Didn’t want to push it. We’re hopeful he’ll back in the lineup tomorrow.” Farrell on David Ortiz being a late scratch prior to Sunday’s game.

 

* “It’s always great to avoid a sweep . . . We battled hard the whole game and had great at-bats the whole game.” Mookie Betts said on winning the final game of the series against Toronto in a postgame interview with NESN.

 

* “On a day when we were thin with the amount of usage we’ve had, Clay stepped in.” John Farrell said on Clay Buchholz’s relief appearance for Boston in the 10th inning.

 

* "It definitely felt a little different . . . Got to help the team any way I can . . . Glad I could contribute today . . . All in all it's sort of a learining experience for me and I'm sure I'll get better at it as we go." Clay Buchholz said on his first relief appearance of the season for the Red Sox out of the bullpen.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 22 games in his 1-6 performance.

 

* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to six games with an RBI single in the sixth. Pedroia has also hit safely in 23-straight games against Toronto

 

* Clay Buchholz made only his third career appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, striking out one and allowing no runs in the tenth. His last relief appearance came on 8/17/08.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Dustin Pedroia

 

The second baseman continues to dominate the Blue Jays, finishing 2-6 with the game-winning double.

 

2) David Price

 

Boston’s ace answered the call in his most important start as a member of the Red Sox, even though he didn’t get the win he only gave up two earned runs off five hits and three walks

 

3) Mookie Betts

 

Entering the game with one hit in his last 20 at-bats, Betts went 2-4 with two walks, scoring two runs.