Green, Wilcox to take on new season with scars to show

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Green, Wilcox to take on new season with scars to show

MIAMI -- The beaming lights and sea of orange and red seats engulfed the 6-9 forward as he stood on the court of the American Airlines Arena. Jeff Green's eyes glimmered while he slowly looked around the building. He paused, losing sight of the present for just a moment and thinking ahead to Opening Night.

The first game of the 2012-13 NBA season. The first game of the Boston Celtics quest for Banner 18. The first game for Green since heart surgery in January.

"It's like fireworks," he told CSNNE.com as a smile crossed his face. "It's like the Fourth of July."

Green and teammate Chris Wilcox underwent season-ending heart surgery in 2012. Green never suited up for the Celtics last season -- he last played on May 11, 2011. Wilcox appeared in 28 games through March 7. Both have been cleared to play this season, starting with Opening Night in Miami on Tuesday against the Heat.

"It probably hasn't really hit me yet," said Wilcox. "Probably when I get in the locker room and see everything and get ready, it'll probably hit me. The first time I saw my jersey when we were overseas, I got emotional. It's here now. It's a blessing."

While Green and Wilcox are proud to wear the Celtics uniform (each re-signed with the C's this summer), they are even more proud of what is underneath their jerseys. Both players have scars that run down their chest as a result of their surgeries.

Battle wounds.

The two were overcome by emotions the first time they saw the permanent reminders. Green had never undergone surgery before and considers waking up from the operation to find IVs, tubes, and bandages as the most difficult point of the process.

"It wasn't me," said Green. "I cried because I'd never seen myself like that. I'm a fit guy, I love taking care of my body. The first time I looked in the mirror with the slash down the middle, my body wasn't the same. It wasn't a good thing to look at at first."

Wilcox was so anxious about the procedure he lost weight due to loss of appetite two weeks before his surgery. Facing his own image following the operation was challenging.  

"When I first looked in the mirror, it was tough because I was like, 'I've got to live with this (scar),'" he said. "I was like ashamed of it, like I have to walk around with this. But now it's like, it's me. I'm more ok, it is what it is. I'm more confident with it. Now it's like a blessing. When I look at it now, it's just like motivation for me."

Green emerged as the Celtics standout player of the preseason, averaging 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds using his length and athleticism with an inside and outside game. Wilcox was hampered by a back injury but looks to return as a big man who can play two positions (forward-center) and run in transition with Rajon Rondo.

They hope 2013 will be a season of new beginnings for Green and Wilcox. They always have reminders of past to make them appreciate their future in the NBA.

"It means a lot," Green said of his scar. "It's the new me. My whole character now and it shows what I've been through. I'll never forget it."

Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

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Tiger Woods arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Florida

Tiger Woods, recovering from his fourth back surgery in the last three years, was arrested on DUI charges Monday morning in Jupiter, Fla.

Woods, 41, is the winner of 79 PGA tournaments in his career (including 14 majors). He was stopped this morning at around 3 a.m. and booked at 7:18 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m.

Physical problems have plagued Woods in recent years, but he said last week "unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again." However, he will need months to recover from his most recent surgery.

Get the latest on this story from golfchannel.com

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.