Jeff Green considers himself his own worst critic. Judging by the improvements he’s made in his second season, there can’t be a lot to be critical about.
After closing out his rookie season playing some of his best basketball, Green went into the off-season determined on improving his jump shot, rebounding and overall defense.
Green, who the Thunder acquired from the Boston Celtics on a draft day trade in 2007, put in arduous work during the off-season. That work has led to a drastic rise in his statistics this season, including rebounding and three-point shooting.
During All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, Green was a better player than most others thought. He proved it on the national stage during the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam game. With Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook also participating, Green scored the go-ahead three-pointer and even sank a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer in helping the Sophomores to victory.
With a nationally televised audience, an arena full of fans and the courtside lined with the game’s biggest names and celebrities, Green caught the attention of many, including Cleveland’s LeBron James, who as one of TNT’s guest analysts kept referring to Green as “Uncle Jeff.”
The nickname caught on, and soon enough fans at the Ford Center and in visiting NBA arenas started calling him Uncle Jeff. James and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony even call him Uncle Jeff whenever they see each other.
Green said the nickname actually goes back to the summer of 2007, right after he was drafted and was a part of the USA Basketball Select Team, along with Durant and Nick Collison, that practiced and scrimmaged with the Olympic gold medalist Team USA.
James was on that team and, according to Green, King James came up with the nickname on the spot.
Green, who is a laidback, friendly, ladies man off the court, was raised by his mother and sister in Cheverly, MD. He attended college nearby at Georgetown, where as a junior he led the Hoyas to their first Final Four appearance since 1985. Green ranks 17th in scoring, 16th in rebounding and 12th in assists on Georgetown’s all-time lists.
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