It’s a story we’ve talked about before at PBT: When Gerald Green was in sixth grade, he was playing hoops on a makeshift rim on top of a doorway, while wearing his mother’s class ring. Green went up to dunk, the ring caught on an exposed nail, and it ripped the flesh off his finger down to the bone. The doctors had to amputate his ring finger on his right hand at the middle knuckle.
It’s as bad as it sounds.
Green was able to overcome that to become a future first-round NBA draft pick out of high school, win the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, and have an eight-year NBA career (with a couple of seasons playing in Russia in the middle). That will continue this season with the Miami Heat.
Despite all that, it took a long time to get over the embarrassment of losing that finger, something Green talked about with Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.
…when selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, came a moment of truth. “If you go back and look at the David Stern tape,” he said during a private moment Thursday about meeting the NBA commissioner, “when I go shake his hand I have my right hand in my pocket. He tells me, ‘Take your hand out of your pocket.’
“I always have been a little shy about that. But I think it’s getting better once I get older. I just want to be able to inspire people with that…
“I think what really hurt me were the aftereffects,” he said, “the getting made fun of, scared to talk about it because I was so ashamed of it, or always hiding my hand in my pocket.
“That was the thing that I had to go through. And as a little kid, obviously kids like to make fun of you because you have this or that. It was something I went through. But it taught me to be who I am today.”
The image of an NBA player in high school is he is the cool kid, the BMOC, the guy every other guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with. For some, that is the reality. But for some it is different — NBA players have had their difficult adjustments through their teenage years (they tend to be tall and awkward), just like the rest of us. The Lakers’ Roy Hibbert talked about that and his battles with depression openly recently.
If Green can use his story to help inspire some youth to accept who they are and face their challenges, then all the better.