WALTHAM — Celtics forwards Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox didn’t know whether or not they’d be back in the NBA this season. Both players had aortic surgery last season, and both players have been working their way back into not only playing shape but everyday life. Both players said the experience has made them closer.
“That’s my scar buddy,” said Green, referring to Wilcox. “We trade stories every time we see each other.”
The stories have focused on the trials and tribulations that come with recovering from heart surgery. Green had surgery in January and missed the entire season. Wilcox underwent surgery two months later. The players have been swapping stories about recovering from positions in which neither player was allowed to do a crunch or walk across the room to getting back into NBA playing shape.
“Sometimes I might be playing and working out and might be like, ‘Jeff, have you ever felt this before?'” said Wilcox. “And he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, all the time.'”
Both players were free agents but re-signed with the Celtics this offseason.
“For us to be on the same team going through the same thing, he’s been like my mentor,” said Wilcox. “I’ve been looking up to him seeing what’s next, what’s going on here. He’s been great letting me know what to expect”
Wilcox said he considers himself 90 percent healthy and said he hasn’t gotten his wind back yet. Green, who is further along in his recovery, said he was slightly better.
“I’m close,” said Green. “Everybody in my shoes would say they’re 100 percent, but I don’t like to be content.”
It’s a strong bond, but Green admitted it hasn’t been easy.
“I’m not happy that he went through it, but for him to be back to play again I’m happy,” said Green. “I just tried to help him through it. It’s not something that you wish on anybody. For us to be together, having experienced what we’ve gone through, it’s a blessing.”
Green projects to get significant minutes off the bench in relief of Paul Pierce, while Wilcox projects in a reserve frontcourt role.