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Boston Celtics Jeff Green and Reggie Lewis, Kindred Spirits

Jeff&Reggie Jeff Green and Reggie Lewis (pictured).


Watching Jeff Green in the final game of the regular season, a haunting memory came back in a rush.

Perhaps it was Jeff’s soulful eyes, or his way of catching a breath, but it was his grace and placid attitude in the face of tough play.

Yes, it was there for more than a flash, but Reggie Lewis seemed back in a Celtics uniform.

Their parallels may be a stretch, or it may be kismet, finally turning the tragic luck back to the Celtics. Heaven knows, Reggie was cheated out of a career and life.

Perhaps Jeff can channel some of Reggie’s karma.  Generous Reggie would probably he more than willing to give what he can.

Both young men were born and bred in Maryland.

They only slightly differed in size by an inch or two, but their dispositions may be eerily similar.

Jeff’s affable and sweet disposition sends fans a hologram of the late Celtic.  ESPN Boston reported that Doc Rivers called Jeff “too nice,” and wouldn’t that apply to Reggie too?

When Jeff was born, Lewis was a star player at Northeastern.  That was so long ago, Jeff may not recall much about Reggie and the tragic history.

The Celtics drafted Jeff Green in 2007 nearly on the anniversary of Reggie’s death, July 28.

Fourteen years and one day later the Celtics drafted Jeff, and promptly sent him away in a deal for Ray Allen.  Danny Ainge knew Reggie Lewis, and perhaps knew what he had to send away at the time. Danny ought to tell Jeff about Reggie.

Now, as if by some dint of cosmic justice, Jeff Green has returned to Boston.

Reggie should have played ten more years, but his own heart cheated him when he died at age 27 in 1993. He should have been on the court with a young Paul Pierce, passing the ball and the torch.

Now the irony is that Paul Pierce will be on the court with Jeff Green, passing on a key knowledge and heritage from the masterpiece of the team to its future leader.

Reggie’s number 35 was retired in the aftermath of the tragedy, making him only the second man never to win a championship for the Celtics who received the honor of having his number lifted to the rafters.

The other man was Ed Macauley, who wore 22. Oddly enough, it was the number Jeff Green always wore, but on the Celtics he took a substitute #8.

Let’s wish Jeff Green all the best of health and longevity. Maybe he can provide some of what Reggie wanted to do for the fans and the team.

There may be no greater flattery to Reggie than for Jeff Green to emulate the late Celtic. Reggie Lewis is still greatly loved, and there should be no greater green mantle for Jeff Green to inherit. 


To read more sports essays, both whimsical and poignant, readers can find e-books on Kindle and Nook called Sex, Drugs, Sports & Whimsy by William Russo. He has recently published Volume 2. Most stories center on Boston legends and myths. Also available is Great Sports Stories: The Legendary Films.


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