On Jan. 6, Celtics rookie guard-forward Gerald Green, 19, was sent to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Patriots of the NBDL. Green, a first-round pick who is averaging 11.4 points in five games for Fayetteville, reflects on the demotion.
WHEN THE SEASON started, I didn't want any part of the D-League. I came out of high school in Texas to play in the NBA. But as the season wore on, I wasn't getting any minutes and I saw this coming. [Director of basketball operations] Danny Ainge and coach [Doc] Rivers felt I wasn't going to get the practice time I needed to stay on my game. When Danny talked to me, there was one topic: minutes. Danny and Doc thought I needed them, and I really wanted 'em.
I'VE BEEN IN Fayetteville about two weeks, and it's O.K. I checked into a hotel near the arena, and I grabbed a rental car to get around. The atmosphere in the arena is much different from playing in front of 20,000 people every night. But all I'm thinking about is playing. The best part is that I like playing on the wing, and that is where the coach [Mike Brown] has me. Being down here has helped me reestablish my rhythm. Let me tell you, practicing with Boston is hard: I was going up against Paul Pierce every day! But to keep a good rhythm and my wind, I need to play, which is where being down here is paying off.
ANOTHER PROBLEM I have had is injuries. Last month I had to deal with a nagging groin, and that was the first time that my body did not allow me to play. It was a big adjustment. I love being in the gym--I'd live there if I could--so not being able to practice killed me. The only upside was that I could do other things like watching film and lifting weights. The lifting paid off: I've put on 18 pounds since the draft. [He's now 6'8", 218 pounds.] I don't know how long my stint in the D-League is going to last. I'd guess about a month, but I'm going to make the most of it. My goals for the season haven't changed; I want to contribute for the Celtics. If playing in the NBDL is going to make me better, I am willing to do it.
BRIAN BABINEAU/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (GREEN ACTION)
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED IMAGING (DIARY); RICHARD SCHULTZ (GREEN WRITING)