DORCHESTER -- The questions about his health are inevitable after he sat out all of last season while undergoing surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, but Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green doesn't waste much time stressing that he's physically ready for the 2012-13 campaign.
"Fully recovered, part of the team, cleared for everything," Green said Friday afternoon after joining teammates Dionte Christmas and Kris Joseph to run a basketball clinic at the Holland Elementary School as part of a community service day alongside other members of the Celtics organization, the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation, and City Year volunteers.
Green knows he'll be peppered with health questions, but having not played an NBA game in nearly 16 months, it's clear his focus now is on what lies ahead. Which is why when he's asked about the toughest hurdle in getting back on the floor, he smiles and declares, "Nothing."
To be certain, there is rust to shake.
"Getting in a groove, getting in a rhythm -- but it’ll come," said Green. "We still have two months until the beginning of the regular season. That stuff will come. I’ve really been able to do everything -- contact, my movements, my shot is there, my lift is there. Everything is coming along."
Green inked a four-year, $36 million contract with the Celtics this offseason despite sitting out all of last season when a preseason screening detected the aneurysm. He underwent surgery at the renowned Cleveland Clinic and rehabbed at times around the team with a goal of returning to Boston this season.
Originally acquired from Oklahoma City at the trade deadline in February of 2011, Green didn't feel like he put his best foot forward in his abbreviated time with the Celtics. A year off gave the now 26-year-old time to assess his game and he hopes to make a bigger impact on the 2012-13 squad.
"Just probably being more assertive, more aggressive in certain situations," Green said of changes he'd like to make in his approach. "That’s about it. My game pretty much speaks for itself -- a guy who can play multiple positions… attack in different situations. My game is what it is; I just have to improve on different things. Just show it out there on the court."
That includes a renewed focus on rebounding, one of the weaker aspects of his all-around game.
"[Rebound is about] being aggressive towards the ball," said Green. "It’s a hard thing, but you just have to go out there and want to do it."
Green brushed aside talk of more playing time at the small forward spot ("I can play the 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 -- whatever [coach] Doc [Rivers] puts me at, that's where I'm going to be.") and gushed about the potential for running with Rajon Rondo in transition.
Green has been participating in informal workouts with his teammates before training camp opens later this month. But it's not just being back on the court that excites him, getting back in the community was important to Green as well.
"I had a lot of fun [with the basketball clinic], it felt good to get back out here in the community," he said. "I haven’t been able to in the past year or so. Now I’m back with the team, able to do this, it was great coming out here with the kids, putting smiles on their faces. Yelling and screaming, but being productive with it in a good way."
One of the messages Green hammered home to the students was taking advantage on their education, something he has a greater appreciation for after finishing up his degree at Georgetown while he rehabbed.
"Education, for me, was big. It allows me to have different avenues, job-wise, because basketball is not forever," said Green. "One message that I wanted to get to them was be serious with your education, it will allow you to do so many different things in this world. With what’s going on in Chicago (teacher strikes), hopefully everything gets settled and the kids can go back to school, because I feel like education is very important for the kids. That’s the next generation... their education gets them started, puts them in good routines. Learn, learn, learn, and the sky is the limit for the young kids."
Hop HERE to read some leftovers from the Q&A with Green.