Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green will have surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm and will miss the entire season, the team announced on Saturday as it traveled to Toronto for its exhibition opener against the Raptors.
Green is scheduled for an operation on Monday at the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors have told him the operation "should completely repair Green's condition and that he can expect to resume his NBA career next season," the Celtics said in a news release.
If so, the timing of his training camp physical — and the end of the NBA lockout — may have saved Green's life and helped the Celtics avert a tragedy like the 1993 death of Reggie Lewis, who dropped dead on a practice court of a heart condition in the prime of his career.
"While we are saddened that Jeff will not be able to play this season, the most important thing is his health," Celtics president Danny Ainge said in the release. "We were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Jeff's case."
The team said it would have no more comment, at Green's request. But Green said on Twitter on Saturday afternoon: "Thank u everyone for ur thoughts and prayers...much appreciated love u all..and I'll be back soon stronger and better than ever I promise."
Green, 25, averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds last season after joining the Celtics in a trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
An aortic aneurysm, which is more common in older people, is a ballooning of the wall of the aorta, the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A person may show no symptoms from the aneurysm; but if it ruptures, it is likely to be fatal if not repaired immediately.
The team's statement said Green's aneurysm was detected during his physical after he reported for a training camp on Dec. 9. Green received additional testing and consultation by "leading cardiac specialists," who recommended surgery.
Around the league, the news of Green's looming surgery seemed to strike some players hard. Steve Nash and Baron Davis were among those sending best wishes via Twitter, and in Miami, LeBron James seemed taken aback when asked about Green after the Heat finished practice.
"I think it's unfortunate for the game to be taken away, especially after a summer like this where we already had 2-1/2 months off," James said. "Hopefully he can get back healthy, they can figure out what's going on and he can get back on the floor. I had an opportunity to play in a few charity games with him this summer. He looked fine to me, but I'm not a doctor. I wish him the best."
James often talks about how tomorrows are not guaranteed, and the importance of enjoying each day. He also spoke Saturday of the memory of Jason Collier's death in 2005, when the center was with the Atlanta Hawks and died suddenly.
"As a professional, you would think every last one of us would be in the top-tier shape and nothing would be wrong with us," James said. "That's why the doctors, they are who they are."
This program aired on December 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.