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Jeff Green on Nets’ title expectations: ‘We wouldn’t want it no other way’

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s Steve Serby time for Jeff Green. The New York Post’s interviewer deluxe sat down with the Nets veteran to talk about his team, his teammates, his expectations and how he’s survived not just a long NBA career but open heart surgery and, he reveals, COVID-19.

Green, who’s played for 10 teams in his 14-year career, remains excited about the Nets possibilities despite the injuries, controversies, etc.

Q: Is this the best NBA team you’ve ever been on?

A: You should ask me that in July. … It has the potential to be, 1,000 percent.

Q: What is it about this team you like best?

A: The personnel, the guys that we have on this team. People think it’s a bunch of egos, but we don’t have any egos, we want everybody to succeed. We support each other, down from the coaching staff, front office to the players. We’re a group of guys from Day 1 who all have one common goal, and that’s to win.

Q: What about dealing with the championship-or-bust expectations?

A: We wouldn’t want it no other way. That shows that we have what it takes. We believe we have the team that can win it all.

Serby asked Green to deliver thumbnail sketches of his “Big Three” teammates, asking what aspects of each he would take to create the perfect basketball player...

Kyrie Irving?

“Oh, man (chuckle). I’d definitely have to start off with his ability to dribble the ball … the shot-making ability … the play-making ability … the way he can create off the dribble. … That guy’s special, man.”

Kevin Durant?

“His length, his size, his skill-set, ability to finish. That boy’s talented too — we have a lot of talented players on this team. You can kind of intertwine him and Kyrie with the way they both handle the ball. The way he can create separation from players.”

James Harden?

“His change of pace, the way he can pass the ball, his IQ. I would take KD’s athleticism over both of ’em (laugh). But James, his ability to score in so many different ways, it’s amazing to watch.”

And just one trait from each he would pick?

“If I had to, Kyrie his dribbling ability, KD’s size, James’ shot-making ability.”

Green also told Serby that he believes Irving is misunderstood and while different in many ways, deserves respect on a personal and professional level.

“Of course. … Everybody’s different in this world, everybody has their own opinions on certain things, everybody has their own way of living. When people don’t like the way somebody’s living, they’re gonna judge and talk about how they’re doing, what they’re doing. He sees things the way he sees it. Being on the outside before this year, I never judged him once. He is who he is, and I love who he is. He’s a guy who thinks outside the box, he’s a guy who goes with his own opinions. I think people just need to allow him to be who he is and not judge him based off his opinion.”

Asked about his other teammates, Green gave quick asessmenets and pushed a certain nickname for one of them.

Nic Claxton?

Very high, that kid is special. His length … he’s been improving each time I’ve seen him since I’ve been here.

Joe Harris?

A lethal shooter.

Bruce Brown?

Tenacious. Biggie Smalls, that’s my guy ... Yeah, plays like a big, but he’s small.

Speaking of Brooklyn, Green told Serby he’s liked what he’s seen so far in the borough ... a lot. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful borough. I’m definitely enjoying my time here. One thing I did not know is the family-oriented feel that it has.”

On a personal note, Green spoke about his health, revealing that like so many of his teammates, he contracted COVID-19 and experienced mild symptoms ... as did his family ... not long before the season began.

“Aside from the fevers, being tired, the body aches probably like for one day. … It probably lasted for two days. My wife got it. She lost the taste. My kids had it at some point, but they didn’t experience a lot of symptoms, they were just tired a little bit.”

The Nets haven’t released details on who on the team came down with COVID or the level of symptoms, but reports indicate that in addition to Green at least five other current Nets players tested positive and/or developed COVID symptoms over the past year: Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, James Harden and Landry Shamet. Taurean Prince, sent to Cleveland in the Harden trade also reportedly tested positive.

Green also expressed gratitude to Dr. Lars Svensson the Cleveland Clinic heart surgeon who opened him up nine years ago and found an aorta so “paper thin” aorta that it was near rupture.

“Lifesaver ... He’s somebody I definitely think about a lot, a guy who literally saved my life, I definitely owe a lot to him. And hopefully one day we’ll reconnect, I’m pretty sure we will.

Now 34 and as Nets fans know, quite spry, Green said he’d like to play 10 more years and take down Vince Carter’s record for NBA longevity.

This being a Serby interview, there’s a lot more there, including how his friendship with Kevin Durant evolved from the streets of Prince George’s County to the NBA, his visit to Nelson Mandela’s museum in South Africa, his Big East days, his reactions to the tragedies that befell Kobe Bryant and now Tiger Woods ... and James Harden’s beard!