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Dips and Dunks

Gerald Green's All-Star slams lift a losing year

Posted: Tuesday February 20, 2007 1:12PM; Updated: Thursday March 1, 2007 9:37AM
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Boston Celtics' Gerald Green.
Boston Celtics' Gerald Green.
Chad Griffith/SI

Gerald Green's first season was all about sticking in the NBA. Now the 21-year-old Celtic, averaging 9.3 points, is confronting the next challenges: winning and making a name for himself.

AS YOU MIGHT GUESS, A LOT OF THIS SEASON HAS BEEN PRETTY BAD, ALMOST LIKE A BAD DREAM. Injuries have killed us, and a [franchise-worst] 18-game losing streak was the most dismal experience of my career. In a couple of games during that stretch I thought we were going to snap out of it. Then we would make a mistake late that would cost us a win. The losing started to affect me off the court too: I would be irritable with my friends and family. Former Celtics like Tommy Heinson and Jo Jo White, who work with the team, told me to keep my head up, but I just wanted the losing to be over. That's why I was so happy when we ended the streak just before the All-Star break.

I WAS ALSO THRILLED TO GET CHOSEN FOR THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST. Before the season I set goals for myself, and making the dunk contest was one. (Another was to play in the rookie-sophomore game, but unfortunately I wasn't selected.) I'd been gearing up for this for months, thinking of creative dunks I could try out.

THE CONTEST ITSELF WAS UNBELIEVABLE. Before the main event we practiced on a court in the back, and I saw a preview of what the other guys were going to do. In the contest they made some great dunks early on, but I went over to Kobe Bryant, one of the judges, and told him to settle down because I had better ones in store. I had a few dunks worked out where Paul Pierce would toss me the ball, and another where I would leap over a cardboard cutout of Nate Robinson, the defending champ. I can't take credit for the cutout idea; that came from our equipment manager, John Connor. The funny thing was, after Paul brought the cutout onto the court, Nate volunteered to stand there instead, and he did. He was a really good sport.

AND I WON! THAT WAS SUCH A RUSH. It took some of the sting out of that tough first half. You better believe I'll be back next year to defend my title!