Jeff Green sauntered across the deserted Ford Center court, headed to a post-game dinner with a legend. George Gervin sauntered along beside him.
The Hall of Famer is a mentor to the Thunder swingman. Because of an NBA program that pairs former stars to future ones, Gervin hooked up with Green and Kevin Durant. Note that conjunction: Durant and Green. With Durant getting so much national hype — deemed "The Next” by ESPN The Magazine last week, scheduled to appear on "Jim Rome Is Burning” soon — it’s sometimes easy to forget that Green is also a star in the making. Then along comes a night like Monday. Without Green, the Thunder doesn’t defeat the Warriors 104-88. Without him, the home team doesn’t withstand an opponent that kept coming at them early. Without him, it doesn’t win going away. "He gave us some points, he gave us some rebounds, and he defended,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Green. "We like what Jeff brings to our team.” What he brings isn’t flashy. Sure, Green scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Warriors. Those are nice numbers, solid stats, but they don’t knock your socks off. "He’s not flashy,” Brooks said. "He may throw down a dunk every now and then that may be spectacular. But he’s solid. He’s a great worker. "He comes to work, does his job, comes back the next day and does the same thing again.” Green’s growing greatness is in his consistency. There are millions of Americans who know the importance of that. They get up every day and go to work, clock in and do their job. They are vital to their employer. Box score from Monday's game