Walking through the doors of Capital One Arena on Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Green wasn’t just entering the place he would be calling home for the upcoming season. He was returning to an arena where he grew up attending games and played in college.
A Hyattsville, Md. native, Green attended Northwestern High School before playing three years at Georgetown University. Now, he’s coming home on a one-year deal with the Washington Wizards.
“It’s amazing, [an] overwhelming feeling,” Green said at a news conference. “All the memories I’ve had here, coming through Northwestern, growing up here, going to Georgetown, it’s a lot of great memories here. So, hopefully those memories can continue to be great by joining this organization and doing great things here.”
Taken with the fifth overall pick in 2007, Green has bounced from team to team and landed on the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Green appeared in 78 games and made 13 starts. One of those starts was in Game 7 of the Cavs’ Eastern Conference Finals victory over the Boston Celtics. Taking over for an injured Kevin Love, Green played 42 minutes and scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Green hopes to take what he learned during his journey with the Cavaliers and teach it to his new team.
“To get there, you have to have team unity,” Green said. “You need to all be on the same page. You have to sacrifice a little bit to make sure you’re doing what it takes to get the team there. I think that’s the biggest key. It’s not an individual thing … it definitely takes team effort and sacrifice out of your own game to make sure the team goes the extra mile to get there.”
Green has already shared this message with John Wall, who has worked out with Green in previous summers, and his playoff experience is one of the reasons Green thought he and Washington would be a good match.
“With the talent that’s on this team, the opportunity that is at hand and can be conquered in this Eastern Conference, I think a lot of guys are hungry to get to that point,” Green said. “Being there myself last year with Cleveland, I know it takes a lot … I felt like this team has it. I want to get back to that point and when I got the call, I felt like it was the best opportunity for me to get there.”
But more than just another great opportunity, joining the Wizards means moving home, putting him in the same city as his family.
“To have my family come support at, not just one or two games throughout an NBA season, but 41 games, I think that will be great,” Green said.
In addition to his immediate family, Green will also be closer to his Georgetown family, namely former Hoyas head coach John Thompson III, with whom Green has remained in contact since his time at the school.
Any advice Thompson dishes out, Green automatically considers.
“I talked to him a couple days ago,” Green said. “We, first and foremost, always had a father-son relationship. My dad was gracious enough that once I went to Georgetown, he left me at the gym and said, ‘you listen to this guy,’ and ever since then, I did.”
Over the last year, the biggest lesson Green learned, he said, is “don’t take moments for granted.” That was true of this season’s NBA Finals appearance, and he said it applies to this homecoming as well.
“Being around family, I think that is the biggest, most important thing for me,” Green said. “The opportunity to be around my nieces, allow my daughters to be around my family a little more, I think will be great. For me, it’s all about doing what I have to do for this organization on the basketball court, but off the court, family comes first.”