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Green keeps dunk secret.

Byline: Bill Doyle


BOSTON - Despite the Celtics' poor record, it's no slam dunk that they will win the NBA Lottery this year.

To make sure that they do, maybe they should have Gerald Green represent them when the pingpong balls drop in May.

Green is, after all, one of the best slam dunkers in the NBA. The second-year swingman was one of four players picked to compete in the annual NBA Slam Dunk Contest Saturday night during All-Star weekend in Las Vegas. Defending champion Nate Robinson of the Knicks, Tyrus Thomas of the Bulls and Dwight Howard of the Magic will also take part.

"I feel like whatever I've got can top everybody," Green insisted. "I feel I can dunk just as good as they can. It's a gift that God gave me."

The 6-foot-8 Green first dunked at a park when he was 15 years old. That wasn't so long ago. He turned 21 last month.

"I wasn't really too excited about it," Green said. "I was like, `OK, I can dunk now.'"

Green won the slam dunk contest at the 2005 McDonald's All-America High School Game, then watched some, but not all, of last year's NBA Slam Dunk Contest on television.

"I was kind of upset that I wasn't in it," he admitted.

At the McDonald's All-America game, Green dunked after putting the ball between his legs, after throwing the ball off the shot clock, after jumping from the foul line and while putting his arm through the rim. He'll try something new on Saturday.

"The one between the legs would be a good one," Green said, "but I don't like doing dunks people have seen before."

Green, the only Celtic scheduled to take part in any All-Star weekend event, won't disclose what kind of dunks he has planned. All anybody knows is he has arranged for Paul Pierce to take part in one of them. Green sneaks away to the team's practice facility in Waltham when no one else is around to work on his slams.

Since the Slam Dunk Contest began in 1984, only one Celtic has won it. Dee Brown prevailed as a rookie in 1991 with his no-look dunk, covering his eyes with one arm while dunking with the other.

Green can certainly dunk, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants him to become more of a complete player.

"He's struggling," Rivers said. "Gerald's been up and down. We get so excited when he has the one good game. Gerald and Wally (Szczerbiak) to me are about the same. If they're not scoring, you basically have to get them off the floor because defensively, Wally struggles because he's just not a good defensive player, and Gerald struggles because he's still learning how to play defense."

"I have nights when I struggle a little bit," Green admitted, "and I just hang my head down. I have to keep on competing. That's all I can do. Sometimes players are going to hit those shots on me, and the stat book is going to look like he's killing me, but sometimes there isn't anything you can do."

Rivers said Green needs to improve in all areas of defense - in transition, guarding his own man and especially helping out his teammates.

"That's learning rotations and stuff," Green said. "I know the simple rotations, but sometimes you need to know the little tips to help you out. As I keep playing more, I'll get better and better."

Green lost his starting job this month, and his minutes have dropped. After scoring 21 points last night, he's averaging 9.3 points, but only 0.9 assists, tied for 238th in the league.

Pierce can't be happy

Pierce told WEEI yesterday that he never expected to be on such a losing team at his age (29) and wasn't too excited about the Celtics rebuilding for another two or three years if they draft a college freshman such as Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.

"With your younger guys," Rivers said, "later on in their careers this (losing season) is going to be an important part to making them a good player. With Paul and Wally and any other veteran player and all the coaches, no, this is not where any of us envisioned we would be, but we are here. You can't run from that fact."

Rivers said it would be only natural for Pierce to ask out if the Celtics were still losing a couple of years from now, but the Celtics coach admitted he wouldn't have to worry about it because if the Celtics hadn't turned things around by then, he wouldn't still be coaching.

"None of us anticipate to be in that situation," Rivers said, "but if we're at this point two years from now, everyone is going to be asking out, and they probably should."



CUTLINE: The Celtics' Ryan Gomes fouls the Bucks' Brian Skinner during the first quarter.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 15, 2007
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