As Jeff Green begins his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’s looking back to a moment when his career almost ended.
In a Players Tribune article, Green reflected on his open heart surgery that caused him to miss the 2011-2012 season. He was diagnosed with a heart defect after undergoing a physical with the Celtics. From his article:
Following a routine NBA physical with the Boston Celtics, I was diagnosed with a dangerous enlargement of the valve to my aorta, the main blood vessel in the body. Most people only find out about this condition after the aorta ruptures, which is usually fatal. The Celtics doctor found the top aortic valve surgeon in America, Dr. Lars Svensson, who performed open-heart surgery on me in January 2012.
When I woke up after surgery, Dr. Svensson told me, “Look at yourself in the mirror, when you get a chance. You are going to see a different person” and that I needed to get used to that. For the first few days, I wouldn’t get up and look. I didn’t want to take off my gown and look at my chest. I just stayed in bed. By about the fourth or fifth day, I finally limped over to the bathroom, took off my gown and stood in front of the mirror.
I was shirtless, just like I’d been a thousand other times during pickup games or practices. But, this time, I didn’t recognize the body I was looking at.
Green also writes about how teammates have asked him about the surgery and how he’s come to love the scar on his chest. It’s a read worth your time and offers some insight into what one of the newest Cavs has gone through. Green is also the second Cav to deal with a significant heart issue as a player, as Channing Frye missed the 2012-13 season due to an enlarged heart. It’s also fitting in a way that Green now plays in the city that’s home to hospital that operated on him.
Green is also auctioning off a Air Jordan XXXI shoes that were exclusively created by Jordan to commemorate the five-year anniversary of Green’s surgery. The pair is only of just two that exists. All proceeds benefit the Cleveland Clinic.