Gerald Green brushed aside his teammate, Marvin Smith, to create space between his defender. Smith’s pick on Chaundee Brown Jr. was enough for Green to backdoor his opponent to convert a two-hand dunk 20 seconds into the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ road match against the South Bay Lakers.
Green’s dunk was the first of his 20-point outing, en route to the Vipers’ 130-121 loss to the Lakers inside the UCLA Health Training Center on Jan. 13.
The Vipers’ loss to the Lakers marked their second game of the G-League’s restart following a 10-day suspension due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But for Green, the contest marked his return to basketball following a near three-year hiatus from the game he loved. It was a void in his life that caused several restless nights during the balmy summer days in Houston.
The image of the 12-year NBA veteran soaring through the air — while dawning a Vipers’ jersey — was distant from the black Houston Rockets coaching warm-ups Green sported for the first three months of the 2022 NBA season.
“It’s a great opportunity to be playing again. I haven’t played in almost three years. I am blessed to have this opportunity to get back on the court. It feels great to be back.” — Green
Before joining the Vipers with the yearnings of an NBA comeback, Green announced his retirement to join the Rockets’ coaching staff as a player development coach. Green made his transition to a full-time coach in October and stated that he was at peace with his decision.
But while sitting next to Houston’s general manager Rafael Stone, Green’s love and desire for the game of basketball remained as a glare in his eyes. It was the same affection that his players depicted when, at times, Green served as a reserve during the Rockets’ practices.
When he wasn’t nurturing his fixation for the game, Green found his niche as a coach that led to him becoming a dependable voice on the sidelines for Stephen Silas. According to the Rockets’ second-year coach, Silas said Green had an unmatched pulse on the team, and he relied on the former pro for his knowledge during timeouts, as well as ability to connect with players.
But since he swapped his clipboard for a pair of black Nikes, one of Green’s goals is to translate the lessons he learned as a leader under the stewardship of Silas to Rio Grande Valley. For Green, he believes he has a lot to offer to the Vipers’ younger players beyond his attributions on the floor.
How to mentally prepare for a game is one of several lessons Green can convey to his new teammates — a knack he picked up while working with Silas for nearly two months.
“When you decide you wanna coach, you have to be ready. You have to make sure all of the basketball [as a player] is out. When guys were working out on the floor, he’s right there with them. The main thing for him is to be happy. And he is most happy when he is hooping. He’ll be missed.
“I try to do things in a way that makes sense and to have a structure people can learn from. For him to learn that much about game prep in those two months means a lot.” — Silas
Green is averaging 22 points in the three games played for the Vipers, displaying flashes of the player that made him a dependable rotational element during the Rockets’ championship contention from 2018 - 2019 amidst the latter half of the James Harden era.
At 35-years-old, the Houston native is wreaking havoc throughout the NBA’s minor league with his scoring, similar to his days playing for the Los Angeles D-Fenders during the 2012 G-League season.
Green averaged 19.1 points on 48.0 percent shooting from the field, 45.8 percent from behind the arc, and became a G-League All-Star in the making. His on-court production awarded him a contract with the New Jersey Nets, where he averaged 12.9 points through the final 31 games of the 2012 NBA season.
Ten years later, Green hopes to recreate the same trance that led to an eight-year NBA run after an abhorrent delay to his pro career that began in 2005 out of Gulf Shores Academy in Houston.
But whether it’s on the floor for the Rockets, Vipers or any other professional basketball team, Green has proven that his love and on-court production will never waver.