When local lucrative Harboring Hearts approached Jeff Green to work to raise awareness of heart surgery patients, he skipped the opportunity to help. For the great Nets man, it was not about philanthropy or signaling virtue. For Green, it was personal.
He became personal on January 9, 2012, when he was cut and had his heart stopped for an hour, surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm that had threatened to end not only his career but his life. For him, every month has become a month of hearts.
“It just made me appreciate basketball more. It made me appreciate life more,” Green told The Post. “[Harboring Hearts] he approached me to do a collab, and I jumped at the opportunity. I think it would be important to bring recognition to [the issue], and help in what they seek to accomplish. ”
Green comes to every practice with such gratitude and maturity it’s easy to see why he’s already earned a Nets leadership role over a career year.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Kevin Durant said.
And while many have expressed gratitude for surviving heart surgery, Green has expressed gratitude for it.
“I should have had the surgery a year or two before, but I didn’t,” said Green, 34. “So I’m glad he was [found] and shut up before it was too late, before something tragic happened, something from which he could not return. “
Green had been working two or three times a day for three months during the 2011-12 lockout, before a physicist with Boston revealed an extension of the valve to his aorta, the body’s main blood vessel. It is a condition that most people only discover after aortic ruptures, which is usually fatal.
While Green was sitting at an operating table in the Cleveland Clinic getting away from anesthesia, Dr. Lars Svensson reassured him he was playing again. But when the country’s first aortic valve surgeon opened Green’s chest, he too was shocked that the aorta was so thin of paper and about to break.
“Luckily we operated on him before it happened,” Dr. Svensson told Cleveland 19 News. “When it happens, saving patients is really hard.”
The procedure lasted five hours, with Green’s heart stopped for an hour. But rehabilitation was far, far longer.
Durant – who grew up in Prince George’s County (Md.) While living in Green, and played with him in Seattle / Oklahoma City – visited him after surgery. And it was an arduous road to walk and even breathe, much less running and jumping.
“When you have surgery, it’s a chainsaw on the ribs that works the entire nervous system,” Green said. “After all the nervous shock all over your body, then you have to train your lungs again. You have to learn to do everything. Basically you start from scratch.
“Training your lungs to take a deep breath – not two, a powerful deep breath – has been the hardest thing ever. That’s why I tell people it’s like being a child. Taking that first breath is probably the hardest thing ever. “
Now Green still has a 9-inch long hole from the neck to the top of the abdomen, and three holes sewn from tubes that were inserted during surgery. But he possessed those scars and reinvented them as badges of honor.
Spencer Dinwiddie has always had a love for Iron Man, but now Green is the Nets player who embodies most of the hero with shrapnel in his chest and surgical scars.
“I and the character have a lot in common,” Green said. “After the surgery I did a PSA with some kids, and I asked one,‘ Is there anything that helps you? Family? He said, “No, I see myself as different, as a superhero.”
“And that was the thing that attacked me. Iron Man – boom. I loved the movie already, but it made me more attached. She stayed with me and I rode with her. It helped spark that motivation to want to continue to be better, it sees me as different. ”
Green not only joined Etan Thomas and Ronny Turiaf among the few to return to the NBA after open-heart surgery, but now leads a Nets team that will have to fight for a title.
It hits a career-high 42.2 percent from 3, she is also head of the locker room. His postgame address after a loss in Detroit he helped fuel a six-game winning streak in the NBA. And out of court, he tries to do his part too.
“We’re in discussions to understand the next step,” Green told Harboring Hearts. “Whether it’s at the auction of shoes, shirts, tickets, anything that can help families.” So we are in talks looking to understand ways that can help. ”