Jeff Green knows a thing or two about sacrifice. During a routine physical in the midst of the 2011-2012 NBA preseason, it was discovered that Green had an aortic root aneurysm. By the start of the new year, Green was under anesthesia, his heart stopped completely, while a surgeon attempt to repair the damage done to his heart.
“To me basketball is secondary,” said Green to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes back in 2018. “I had to really fight for my life. I almost died over this game.”
LaMarcus Aldridge shared on Thursday that he noticed an irregular heartbeat following Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, calling it “one of the scariest things I’ve ever felt,” and it’s no surprise that Jeff Green was in full support of Aldridge’s decision to retire — he, too, understands the fragility of life and that some things take precedence over the game of basketball.
“I’m just glad that he’s fine. It’s bigger than basketball for me, for him as you can see,” explained Green. “I’m just happy that he’s okay, he’s healthy, and he’s around his family. I’m just glad that the episode calmed down.”
Green, all too aware of Aldridge’s current situation with heart health, called Aldridge’s situation “so personal.” He learned of Aldridge’s decision to retire via social media like the rest of us. His follow-up was short and sweet.
“I would never put it near the category of him letting us down,” said Green about Aldridge’s decision to retire. “Especially for me by this being so personal. For me, it’s about health first — making sure he’s okay. I don’t even care about basketball at that point. That’s not even in the conversation. For me, it’s about if he’s okay as a human physically and that he’s just around his family and being loved.”
Green has been checking in with Aldridge, messaging his former teammate shortly after the conclusion of Saturday’s game and after the announcement of Aldridge’s retirement. All throughout the process, Green’s goal has been to be helpful and caring without coming off as overbearing.
“When I talked to him, it was ‘I support you, man. I got your back. If you need anything, I’m here,’” explained Green.
On the tail end of such a prestigious Hall of Fame career with perhaps his best chance to date to come away minted with a championship ring, walking away from the game was by no means an easy decision for the 35-year-old Aldridge. On Twitter, LaMarcus called the day of his retirement a “tough day.” Green, however, added a different perspective to the matter. Who needs rings when you can be around.
“He went out on — for me — good graces,” Green said about the conclusion of Aldridge’s career. “As long as he’s healthy, he’s breathing, he’s around his family, and he’s loved, I’m happy for him.”
The best news of all?
“He’s in good spirits,” said Green. “That’s all you can ask for.”
- Nets’ Jeff Green opens up about life-saving heart surgery, giving back - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- How Jeff Green returned from a heart defect that almost ended his life - Baxter Holmes - ESPN