Select Team Equals Emerald Experience For This Sonic
Most rookies endure months of waiting before their first tests against the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Not Jeff Green.
Selected fifth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2007 NBA Draft, Green started his NBA career by playing in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas less than four months after he guided Georgetown to its first Final Four since 1985. Along with his season averages of 14.3 ppg., 6.4 rpg. and 3.2 apg., his postseason surge with the Hoyas launched Green into the lottery and sent him to Seattle. With 32 points and 13 rebounds in his final summer league game last month, Green took his strong finish into USA Basketball Select Team competition this week.
Green chatted with USABasketball.com about Las Vegas, playing for USA Select Team and new Sonics head coach P.J. Carlesimo and about competing against the NBAï¿½s best.
Howï¿½s it going out in Las Vegas?
Itï¿½s a lot of fun. Itï¿½s good to be out here with all these superstars, especially in my rookie year. Iï¿½m just enjoying the experience.
Obviously, thereï¿½s quite a difference between summer league play and playing with the U.S. Select Team. What have you noticed?
Better players. Itï¿½s a lot easier because you have people with knowledge of the game, so itï¿½s easier on you. Iï¿½m taking in my experience with these guys, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that you get to play with the USA team.
Do you think the style of play is more organized on this team as opposed to summer league?
Oh, for sure. The talent at USA Basketball is a lot different than summer league play. On Seattleï¿½s summer league team it was just Kevin (Durant) and me. The other guys were rotating and trying to make a squad.
Who did you hear from about the Select Team and how did you feel?
Coach (John Thompson III) called me and told me that USA Basketball was putting together a team, and that I was being considered. I was excited to get a chance to play against LeBron, Kobe, Dwight Howard, all those guys. I jumped at the challenge because I like challenges. Just to see what Iï¿½m going to be up against during the season. I jumped at that, especially because we have P.J. Carlesimo as our Select coach, and heï¿½s going to be my coach with the Sonics.
Why do you think USA Basketball picked you for the Select Team?
I donï¿½t know. Thatï¿½s a good question. They saw something that they donï¿½t see in other guys, I guess. Iï¿½m flattered that they thought of me, especially being a rookie. I thank everybody who mentioned my name to be a part of the team.
Now that you are there, whatï¿½s it like to play against the best players like Kobe and LeBron?
Itï¿½s exciting. Like anybody else, itï¿½s going to be nerve-wracking the first couple of possessions. After a while, you just play inside yourself and inside the game. Itï¿½s fun going against that kind of talent.
Have you talked much to your Sonics teammate Kevin Durant about his bid to make the Senior National Team?
I havenï¿½t brought it up much because I donï¿½t want to be like he has to make it. I hope that he makes the team because it would be a good chance for him, especially for when he gets back to Seattle.
How is it having Coach Carlesimo coach you now before you both go to Seattle?
Itï¿½s a great thing for me to be a part of this team so I can get a great feel for him before the season starts. I can get the feel for him fast before other guys get the opportunity, so I might have the advantage.
Coach Carlesimo is big on defense. What do you think about that?
I love it. Thatï¿½s one thing I know you have to do to win games. Iï¿½m going to do my best to play defense all 48 minutes.
Any thoughts on him coming from San Antonio and bringing that winning pedigree to Seattle?
Hopefully it can rub off on me. I would like to turn things around and get back to the winning ways like it was in the past, so hopefully he can bring that winning atmosphere to Seattle.
You and some Seattle officials said that Georgetownï¿½s offense kind of contained you, and you are looking forward to more flexibility in the pros, but how do you think that Georgetownï¿½s style helped you?
It helped me out a lot being able to play multiple positions. In the Princeton offense, every player does not have a significant position. Every player on the floor plays different positions. It allows you to handle the ball, to shoot the ball and to do different things.
Seattle has become quite the place for young athletes in all sports from Ken Griffey, Jr. to Alex Rodriguez to Shawn Kemp and others. Do you think that the Seattle public has been conditioned to seeing young stars succeed?
Hopefully the fans expect the best from us. Weï¿½re going to try to win some games and make them happy, but weï¿½re going to go out there and just play our game. We know that weï¿½re young and itï¿½s going to take time for us to win. Weï¿½re just trying to do our best and get better and do what it takes to win.
You and Kevin have talked a lot about deferring to one another. Ultimately, of course, somebody has to take charge. How do you think you two will go about that?
Weï¿½ll just fall in line behind each other. Whoever is going that night or whoever is doing the best is who will lead. Weï¿½re a team. We know itï¿½s takes more than one person to win. Whether itï¿½s Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour or anybody like that, weï¿½re going to be behind them.