The Odd Couple
Providing The Spark Entitlement
“The Odd Couple” has the cool theme song, but the relationship between 11-year vet Jeff Green and rookie Cedi Osman might actually be closer to Red and Andy of “The Shawshank Redemption” than Felix and Oscar. Kindred spirits of different ages from different backgrounds bound together by a common cause.
That’s an awfully haughty way to describe the unique friendship of Green and Osman – Cavalier teammates who genuinely enjoy each other’s company on and off the court.
On Cavs.com, we routinely do a feature called “Rookie Tales” – and a standard question to every player is: ‘Which veteran took you under his wing as a rookie?’
Green’s answer – from his freshman season in Seattle – was Kurt Thomas. Cedi’s answer, when he’s asked years from now, will unquestionably be Jeff Green.
Originally drafted by the Celtics with the fifth overall pick in 2007, Green found the perfect landing spot in Cleveland – where he’s been one of the steadiest and most productive members of the Cavaliers’ second unit – with 14 games as a starter in the mix. The former Georgetown star averaged 10.6 points per contest (13.6 ppg as a starter), notching double-figures in 33 games during the regular season and in four of his last six Playoff outings.
Osman, who just turned 23 in April, made his NBA debut this year after a strong stint in Europe. Like most rookies on a title contender, Osman’s minutes were limited – although he did have a very good 10-game midseason stretch, averaging 8.9 points and posting double-figures in five contests before a hip flexor injury temporarily derailed him.
Green and Osman essentially play the same position and play it similarly. They’ve had some intense battles in practice and some big laughs in the locker room. (They’re lockers are directly next to each other at The Q and that’s now spread to the road.)
Any fan who’s seen Cedi’s pregame dance routines in tunnel or him exploding off the bench and into LeBron’s arms after a game-winner know that he’s got all the energy and enthusiasm of a 23-year-old. Green, who’s got a sneakier sense of humor, brings more of a veteran cool. (And it’s part of the reason he tries to avoid Osman on gamedays.)
In today’s installment of "Providing the Spark", we look at two of the Cavaliers closest comrades – a duo that made Cleveland’s bench one of the most cohesive, efficient and entertaining units in the league.
JEFF GREEN … on how the friendship got started …
I didn't necessarily individually take him under my wing. The friendship just kind of formed. And with that friendship, it became kind of a veteran/rookie type of thing, and it formed that way.
I mean, he has many guys to look up to -- myself, LeBron, JR. We're all there for him.
But when I first met him, I got to know him a little bit, got to know his personality. I saw how hard he worked and you don't typically get rookies who want to listen, who want to work hard and who enjoy the grind of this NBA professional life.
I saw it in him. He loved it, and we just kind of gravitated toward each other and we just became friends.
CEDI OSMAN … on how their friendship got started …
Well, our lockers were next to each other. And from the beginning of the season, I think just me and Jeff, our energy is so high. Of course, he's older than me and more experienced, he likes to work, he likes basketball. He likes to play and he has high energy – and I'm the same way.
So that's why our friendship is even more stronger. Jeff is a great guy. He's my older brother. We do a lot of things together, like dinner on the road, hanging out with each other. It's just great having him here.
We've had a really good relationship since the beginning of the year. I mean, like in the beginning it was not like this, of course. But then, you know, day by day we got closer and they put (our lockers) next to each of us and from then it started.
JEFF GREEN … on how Cedi is different than most rookies …
We spend a lot of time together off the court, as far as team dinners and things like that. We both enjoy life, we always have a positive attitude towards coming in and doing what we have to do and working hard and making sure that we're prepared.
As a rookie, it's hard to see that enthusiasm every day. There's typically a wall you hit during your rookie year where their energy goes down. Cedi’s always kept the gym alive because of his energy and passion for basketball and really the way he goes about his everyday life. And that's how I am. So when I saw that, we just kind of grew a relationship out of that because we enjoy similar things.
CEDI OSMAN … on “fitting into” a new culture in the States …
Here, it's a different culture. So, we've been hanging out a lot together and in the last couple of weeks he was telling me that I’m getting Americanized. Everybody keeps telling me that: 'You're getting too Americanized -- like you're starting to talk like an American and stuff.'
I mean, I'm just trying to do my best to fit in.
JEFF GREEN … on battling against each other in practice …
We push each other, first and foremost, but we also understand that it's bigger than ourselves, what we're trying to accomplish here.
We know that when we come into the gym -- for instance, this morning, him and I and Kyle, we're going to push each other to be better. We know there's not any animosity towards each other.
And I think that's what we enjoy out of this journey: making sure that you know we're prepared for what's to come you know in the future -- whether it's this week against Boston or even next year, making sure that he understands that it's going to be a grind. It's always a grind, but you always need to be prepared.
CEDI OSMAN … on battling against each other in practice …
He likes to play fast, I like to play fast. He's always moving with high energy and that's how I'm playing. So that's why I think our game style, our playing style and our friendship is kind of like perfect.
We’ve had a couple one-on-ones and those are fun, for sure. Him and Kyle. It's very good.
JEFF GREEN … on Cedi staying ready despite not playing much …
He's good. He understands that this is bigger than the individual. He understands that it's a team thing.
But the great thing about Cedi is that he's always going to be prepared. You saw him last game, Game 4 against Toronto. He was ready to go – came in with good energy, made some plays. That's Cedi, he's always going to be prepared. He always comes to the gym ready to work.
CEDI OSMAN … on staying ready despite not playing much …
He's always telling me to stay ready. You know, he keeps reminding me I'm rookie and not playing is normal for the first year. He tries to help me – not just about basketball; about everything.
JEFF GREEN … on Cedi learning his gameday routine …
I mean, it's just a matter of I'm 11 years in and this is first year. So, you know, in his mind, this is just basketball.
We're very much the same, but we also have different ways that we get ready for certain things. During the regular season, that's us – 24/7 – but in the Playoffs, with this being my 11th year and having this opportunity that comes along once in a blue moon, having a chance to compete for an NBA Championship. You know, I have a certain way of getting prepared, and he doesn't know that version yet. He knows the regular season version.
I mean, I told him once and it is what it is. He knows he needs to pick his spots. That's just a way of him getting to know me and this is how I am on gamedays, say, 60 minutes before a game. He understands that now.
So it took some getting used to, but that's how you get to know each other -- you figure it out.
CEDI OSMAN … on learning Jeff Green’s gameday routine …
Like, he doesn't want to talk to me on gamedays almost that time.
He just wants to get focused on the game and sometimes I'm thinking that, you know, being TOO focused not good.
So I'm just trying to do a couple of jokes or something just to make him relax you know. And he's like: 'No, man. No! It's gameday.' And I'll be like: 'Ok, ok, man! Just relax. I know you need to be focused, but just relax a little bit!.'
But it's all good.