You can say what you want about Gerald Green’s game. Streaky? You bet. Defensively limited? Yep, that’s true too.
But one thing that never, ever should be in doubt: Gerald Green is H-town to the core.
Born in Houston, Green attended Dobie and Gulf Shores Academy and was one of the last players to enter the NBA directly from high school. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 2005, and he made a quick, one-game stop with the Rockets in 2008, when he was sent over by the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kirk Snyder.
He was released two weeks later and spent the next several seasons as an NBA journeyman, playing for the Brooklyn Nets (New Jersey at the time), Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, and even a second tour with the Celtics.
After being released by the Milwaukee Bucks just a few weeks before the start of the 2017 season, Green famously found himself unemployed and back home in Houston playing pickup games. The Rockets were dealing with some injuries, and Green got the call in December.
He reported to the team with nothing but a backpack and the clothes he was wearing, and even had to wear a pair of Trevor Ariza’s shoes in his first game.
But Green immediately became a Rockets fan favorite when Houstonians realized Green was just a fan himself, one of them. He would show up to games in an Olajuwon jersey, everyone remembered that he helped out during Hurricane Harvey just a few months prior, and he famously did this with his hair:
Oh, and he was pretty good on the court too. After playing just 11 minutes in his first game, Green caught fire and scored in double-digit points for the next nine straight games, including a 27-point effort in a win against the Orlando Magic in which he shot 7-10 from deep, back-to-back with a 29-point game in a loss to the Golden State Warriors in which Green was 8-15 from three.
He took a two-game suspension for the infamous locker room incident with Los Angeles Clippers, which endeared him to fans even further, and he fulfilled the microwave man roll for the Rockets for the rest of the season. He wasn’t always hot, but when he was... boy, watch out.
He finished the year averaging 12.1 points per game, his most since 2014, and the Rockets re-signed Green for the veteran’s minimum (because of course). You almost get the feeling from Green that playing for his hometown team is such a dream come true, the money is almost inconsequential. It’s as if the Rockets pulled a poster from TDS, gave them a jumper in a lab somewhere, and trotted them out to put up a near 30-piece against the Warriors.
Green’s love for his hometown squad is only matched by his glove-like fit in Houston’s three-heavy offensive philosophy. Oh, and he’s also a leader in the locker room. One of my all-time favorite Green moments during last year’s training camp:
“The leaders are #3 and #13, everyone else falls in line. If you don’t? That’s why I’m here, I’ll make sure you fall in line.” pic.twitter.com/H1BemRjcjz— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 24, 2018
Got it, rookies and newcomers?
Anyway, Green served a similar role this past season, and though his scoring average was down (9.2 points per game), he’s valuable enough to the squad that the Rockets again signed him to a vet minimum deal (because of course).
Green’s role likely stays the same this season — knock down triples, slam home a few oops, and keep things in order in the locker room — but it’s his ability to bleed Rockets colors and his dedication to H-town that has him crack the Top 10 of our Fan Favorites list.