Dreaming Green: C’s Rookie has Surreal NBA Introduction

BOSTON – Imagine having a front-row seat to your first-ever NBA game. Imagine sitting right at the end of the players’ bench, chatting it up with guys that you grew up watching, and listening in on their huddles during timeouts.

Now imagine the head coach calling your name and telling you that it’s your time to shine. You take off your sweats, step into a four-point ball game at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and all the attention is suddenly on you.

Not even 20 seconds after checking in, you throw down a vicious put-back dunk and the crowd goes wild. And you’re only getting warmed up.

A few minutes later, you slam another through the rim, followed by a crafty lay-up, a 3-pointer and three more dunks for good measure, all while not missing a single basket. You score 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting during 10 minutes of crunch-time action, while leading your team to a thrilling comeback win.

Sounds too good to even be a dream, doesn’t it?

Well, that dream was a reality for Javonte Green Sunday night.

The 26-year-old rookie, who grew up in the small town of Alberta, Virginia, never had the opportunity to attend an NBA game during his youth. He knew that would change as soon as the Celtics signed him this past summer after spending his last few seasons overseas.

Though, Green didn’t expect he would be playing right off the bat in preseason, and especially not in a crunch-time situation like on Sunday night.

“Sitting on the bench for three quarters, I think the nerves… it was crazy,” Green said of the moments leading up to his debut against the Charlotte Hornets. “It was so unexpected when [head coach Brad Stevens] called my name. It was like, 'Javonte, get in there.' I was like, 'Oh snap.' It wasn't nerves, it was just like you have to perform at the best. I think (the nerves) were out the window.”

They sure appeared to be.

Nineteen seconds after checking into an 82-78 ballgame, Green snagged an offensive rebound, then rose straight up and nearly tore the rim off the backboard. The thunderous slam cut Boston’s four-point deficit in half and brought the crowd to its feet.

The energy inside the arena – energy that Green had never experienced the likes of before – lit a fire inside of him that could not be put out.

He went on to dunk the ball four more times over the next seven minutes – a feat that many players don’t even achieve over the course of an entire season.

“If he was a little bit more athletic, maybe he'd be pretty good,” Stevens joked after the 107-106 win. “But what he did coming off the bench with 10 minutes to go, jumped straight up and dunked it right after he came in, that's ridiculously athletic. But he also plays really hard. He's a competitor.”

Green, who also had a strong Summer League with the Celtics, is hoping that his competitive nature and absurd athleticism can help him earn him a spot on the Celtics’ regular-season roster. He couldn’t have made a much better first impression than he did Sunday night, and Celtics Nation couldn’t have made a much better impression on him.

“To play in front of people at the TD Garden was an amazing feeling,” he described. “You just want to go out and play your hardest for the fans.”

Being a fan inside of an NBA arena is something Green never even got to experience until Sunday night. It turned out to be an experience that he never could have imagined.

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