Gerald Green Suspended Two Games Is A Familiar Story

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner

2015, November.

Now, we know the story. Now, we know what all the secrecy was about. Now, we know why the Heat suspended Gerald Green for conduct unbecoming. Now, we know Gerald Green had bloody hands.  Now, we know he went out his condo, collapsed, came back in and when someone tried to restrain him, Gerald Green punched an unidentified victim in the face. Now, we know Gerald Green was handcuffed.

The Heat coddled this story, dragging it into the mysterious realm of sensational when it was just one of those violent altercations. The police report labeled Green as “agitated”, according to the Miami Sun Sentinel who obtained the document.

The Heat were totally within their boundaries to levy a punishment, and if Green was the instigator, which the police report clearly states, why make such a big deal about it when eventually it was all going to be public information? Unless, there is one more chapter we still don’t know. Why were his hands bloody? Without any apparent injuries, why was he held in the hospital?

Gerald Green is not a star. He’s played on two teams in Russia, three D-League teams, the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers and Suns. But he was protected like he was a superstar when, at best, he is a role player who for the past three years has, for the most part, gotten his game and his mental approach together. That was always the consistent knock on Green. He was immature. He didn’t know what he didn’t know.

Green released a statment of contrition, accepting the punishment handed down by his bosses.

I want to apologize to my family, fans and the HEAT organization. I accept the suspension and look forward to rejoining my teammates this weekend.”

The reported facts were that at his condo Green was “combative” enough for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue to request further assistance. The 911 call referred to Green as bleeding and passed out.

Secrecy has its purpose but it is rare for teams to suspend their own players. They leave most punishment matters up to the league office. But Pat Riley has always been authoritarian and parental, clear about following his protocol and agenda. He sets the boundaries and there are two choices: obey or suffer.

For a league that loves the athletic, Gerald Green has bounced around for much of his career. He was a first round pick (18th) by the Celtics in 2005, a high schooler from Houston with huge athleticism but clueless about the game itself. Most scouts believed he altered his trajectory by missing out on a year in college which would have matured him. He was already fined as a Heat player for menacing gestures.

The lingering question that creeps beneath the surface is how long will Gerald Green continue on this road of behavior and apologies? Is there an end of the line?

________________________

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is what others think you are.” John Wooden.

2018, January.

Who is Gerald Green?

Two weeks ago, he was a confusing story. Why so many teams for such a talented scorer who has the sense of the moment? Why was he sitting at home doing absolutely nothing when a bunch of teams needed a shotmaker? Paul Pierce chimed in. He remembered when Green was a rookie on the Celtics. Pierce expected Green to be an impact NBA-er for years, to be a presence.He has been just the opposite, here and there, dragging his career behind him in neglect as he is continually displaced, one of the NBA homeless who was supposed to be one of the NBA trusted.

Two years in Boston. Then Minnesota and Houston. Then Dallas and out the league by the time he was 23. Three years later, the Nets, Pacers, two years in Phoenix, the Heat and Boston. It’s boring in its redundancy.

Green was in the last draft class that included high school players, before the rule was changed, and the metaphor of Green was why the rule was changed. High school players in the aggregate just weren’t ready.

Gerald Green. Andrew Bynum. C.J. Miles. Monta Ellis. Lou Williams, Andray Blatche. Amir Johnson. They were in the 2005 NBA draft a month or so after their high school prom.  Thirteen years later, what is the truth?

Only Andrew Bynum won a title. None have been All-Stars. Gerald Green, Lou Williams, C.J. Miles and Amir Johnson have survived the NBA rough roulette, currently on NBA rosters. Of those four, only Green has had the upside down career, so many teams, so many start overs, his professional statistics scattered all over the world.

After the Miami Heat, Green returned to the Celtics in 2016-17 and played 47 games but barely, only 11 minutes.  And then uemployment until Daryl Morey called.

It has been a great resurgence for Gerald Green. He hasn’t played this much in four years. He’s a 41% three point shooter, and nearly a career high of 15.6 points a game. He freezes when it comes to passing the ball, averaging less than a single assist. But his offensive rating of 117, a career high for him, is a testament to his overall offensive biography. He has allowed the Rockets to keep the ship upright, absent fatigue, without James Harden. Green’s maturity which was always a work in progress seemed a non-issue for the 31 year old. And then Monday night happened.

The details depend on who is talking and it is all ridiculously silly for grown men, all of them except James Harden over the age of 30. But once again Gerald Green was suspended for two games. According to Adam Silver, his crime was his passion. It led him to aggressive behavior as he and several of his Rockets teammates tried to foolishly enter the Clippers locker room. Silver really had no choice. He coudn’t normalize off the court behavior that could lead to a dangerous precedent. So Green and Ariza were suspended.

But for Green, it has always been like this in his NBA career, always something to slow it down. Two steps forward, one step back. Houston has given him his best chance to stick with a contending club and have a chance to compete for a ring. He plays exactly like the Rockets need. He provides energy, passion and shotmaking.  His defense is ho-hum but the Rockets aren’t winning games that way. Green, at 6-7, is a tough matchup, and when measuring the depth of the Warriors, he’s an added weapon. Clearly, if the Warriors can add Swaggy, the Rockets can add Gerald Green.

But less is more for the perimeter scorer. Less of the Gerald Green not considering behavior and outcomes, and more of the shotmaking in critical moments Gerald Green.  A little thought behind his actions, both on and off the court, will re-energize and stabilize his career past this month, this season and this year. His intentionality has always been at the center of his problem. He has 5-6 years left of a career. He’s talented but NBA survival isn’t just about talent but it is about being lucky and being disciplined. Controlling your impulses. And poise.

Especially poise.