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锟斤拷 Gerald Green was at a crossroads.

Released by Milwaukee in training camp Womens Greg Olsen Jersey , the career journeyman couldn't find another NBA team that wanted him.

He contemplated playing internationally and in the G League, but no one had any use for the over-30 player with almost a decade of NBA experience.

“I was honestly contemplating retirement,” he told The Associated Press. “A lot of people don't know that, but I was done.”

So he contacted his agent to put an expiration date on his basketball career.

“I was like: ‘Look man, when Jan. 1, 2018, hits, if I'm unsigned, I'm putting out a big statement on my Instagram letting everybody know, thank you for the awesome career over all these years but I'm done,'” he said. “‘I ain't going to play no more.'”

Just four days shy of his self-imposed deadline, Green received the call that would change everything: His hometown Houston Rockets wanted him.

“Basketball was the last thing on my mind until I got that call,” he said. “Then it's kind of like ‘Are you serious?'”

By then, the 32-year Green had already “mentally checked out” of basketball. He was spending his days doing work in real estate and teaming with rapper Trae Tha Truth to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The Rockets took a chance on Green Womens Justin Tucker Jersey , and now he could make it pay off.

Green's years as an underdog – along with his length and athleticism – could be just what Houston needs Wednesday night when the Rockets try to even up the Western Conference finals after losing Game 1 to the Golden State Warriors.

He knew when he joined the Rockets it was a shot at redemption – on many levels.

He was traded to Houston as a 22-year-old in 2008 but released a little more than two weeks later after appearing in just one game.

When Green came to the Rockets the first time, he acknowledges he had the wrong attitude. The young man who'd had a modest upbringing on the South side of Houston had money after being drafted in the first round in 2005, and was coming off a memorable performance in the dunk contest at the 2008 All-Star Game where he blew out a candle atop a cupcake that was balanced on the back of the rim before throwing down a two-handed slam.

“It was right place at the wrong time,” he said of his mini-stint with the Rockets. “I just wasn't focused. I still wanted to go out and enjoy my success of getting to the NBA instead of me trying to enjoy the work process of getting better.”

In the years since, he bounced around with six other NBA teams and spent two years playing in Russia and China. When he returned to Houston, he knew from the first day that his second stint was going to be special.

“As soon as I walked in the door I felt like everybody had their arms open to me like: ‘We need a hug. Come on, man. We've been waiting on you,'” he said mimicking a hug with his long muscular arms.

And the feeling was certainly mutual.

“To know him is to love him,” Chris Paul said. “He's one of those people that if you don't like Gerald Green, you're telling me a lot about yourself.”

It was a new feeling for Green, who said he felt like some of his previous teammates wondered why he was on the team and never fully embraced him.

“I get judged a lot,” he said. “Maybe because of the way I talk, the way I look, I'm real quick to say a lot of stuff that maybe people don't understand because that's just me. I'm not the type of person that's scripted but on this team since Day 1 Authentic Melvin Gordon Jersey , I could say something (crazy) and they ain't never judged me for that.”

Coach Mike D'Antoni had known of the lanky forward with a knack for 3-pointers for years, but wasn't sure what to expect when Houston signed him off the street.

He didn't have to wait long. The day after he signed he scored 18 points, and in his fourth game and Houston's first of the season without James Harden, who was nursing a hamstring injury, Green put on a show. He scored 27 points and made 7 of 10 3-pointers to help the Rockets to a win over Orlando. The next night he outdid himself, tying a career high with eight 3s and finishing with 29 points as Houston fell to Golden State.

Green, who played high school basketball in Houston, averaged more than 18 points in the seven games Harden was out.

He has continued to bring a spark off the bench, averaging 12.1 points in the regular season – his highest average since 2015. He credits his turnaround to the nurturing environment fostered by D'Antoni, who he calls a “confidence-giver.”

And despite his limited work, he's become a fan favorite for his almost obsessive love for Houston.

Green arrives to almost every game in a jersey of one of Houston's teams, and he has three tattoos that pay homage to the city. Running down the entire length of his left forearm is the word “Houston” in graffiti-style block letters. On the front of his left shoulder is ink replicating the sign for Interstate 45, a freeway that runs directly by where he was raised. The last one is a nod to the Houston Oilers, a baby blue oil derrick on the back of the same shoulder almost identical to the ones that once adorned their helmets.

But his representation of Houston doesn't stop there. Each time he hits a 3-pointer Cheap Ryan Tannehill Jersey , he contorts both of his hands into “H's” and holds them high toward the crowd.

Says Harden: “He's the most Houston person I While Andy Dalton was throwing deep passes to A.J. Green and the rest of the Bengals receivers on Friday, Tyler Eifert was on a side field running sprints in shorts and a cut-off shirt.

He ran one sprint, then another. Next were some agility drills. The tight end did everything except catch one of Dalton's spirals.

The Bengals' most oft-injured player hopes that part comes soon.

The Bengals have gambled that Eifert can stay healthy for a full season and get the NFL's worst offense moving again. He played only two games last season before hurting his back again, prompting another medical procedure. Eifert was a free agent after the season, and the Bengals decided to keep him with an incentive-laden, one-year deal .

Cincinnati's offense finished last in the league in yards. A healthy Eifert could help change that.

”I can't predict the future on that one, but I can testify to the fact that he made a difference when he was up and running for us,” director of player personnel Duke Tobin said. ”We know what he can do if he can get back to that level.”

Eifert is one of Dalton's favorite targets. He caught 13 touchdown passes in 2015, the most by a tight end in Bengals history. That was the last time the Bengals made the playoffs. A concussion, a dislocated elbow, a torn ankle ligament and two back injuries have limited him to 24 games over the last four years.

Although the Bengals have encouraging reports on Eifert's back, they've decided to go slow with him at the start of camp. He hasn't been cleared to practice even though he feels he's ready, forcing him to work out on a side field the first two days.

”When I came back, I thought I'd go right into practice Stefon Diggs Jersey Big ,” Eifert said. ”Everyone knows all the surgeries I've had. We're just being smart about it.”

The Bengals are trying to keep him healthy and get him in shape for the opener at Indianapolis on Sept. 9. He said there's been no discussion about how much he might play in the preseason.

”I definitely need to get back out there, get some plays full-speed,” Eifert said. ”It's been a while.”

Eifert hurt his back during the second game last season, a 13-9 loss to Houston. Backups Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah combined for 52 catches and eight touchdowns during the season.

Eifert's greatest asset is his ability to make catches in tight coverage, the main reason he became Dalton's favorite target near the goal line. The tight end has made one change in the offseason, dropping at least 10 pounds for quickness.

”I feel a lot better,” he said. ”Everyone is always saying you're got to block and hang in there in the trenches, you've got to put on weight, but that's (wrong).”

ON THE SIDE: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also worked out on the side Friday for the second straight day. He hasn't been cleared to practice. Burfict is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

ROSS AGAIN: Second-year receiver John Ross made his second impressive catch of camp on a long throw, drawing applause from the crowd of 1,050. Ross missed most of his rookie season with shoulder injuries.

OUCH: Tony McRae fell while trying to break up a pass, and receiver Cody Core landed on the back of the cornerback's right leg. McRae limped to a cart and was taken off for an exam.

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Wednesday 26 Sep, 2018 @ 09:23AM