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Nets’ Jeff Green opens up about heart surgery, giving back

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Nets' Jeff Green opens up about heart surgery, giving back

When local nonprofit Harboring Hearts reached out to Jeff Green about working to bring awareness to heart-surgery patients, he jumped at the chance to help. For the Nets big man, it wasn’t about philanthropy or virtue signaling. For Green, it was personal.

It became personal on Jan. 9, 2012, when he was cut open and had his heart stopped for an hour, surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm that had threatened to end not just his career but his life. For him, every month has become heart month.

“It just made me appreciate the game of basketball way more. It made me appreciate life way more,” Green told The Post. “[Harboring Hearts] reached out to me to do a collab, and I jumped at the opportunity. I thought it’d be important to bring recognition to [the issue], and help in what they’re trying to accomplish.”

Green comes at every practice with such gratitude and maturity it’s easy to see why he’s already earned a Nets leadership role during a career year.

“We’re lucky to have him,” Kevin Durant said.

And while many have expressed thanks at having survived heart surgery, Green has expressed gratitude it happened at all.

“I should’ve had the surgery a year or two before, but I didn’t,” said Green, 34. “So I’m happy it was [found] and caught before it was too late, before something tragic happened, something I couldn’t have come back from.”

Green had been working out two or three times a day for three months during the 2011-12 lockout, before a physical with Boston revealed an enlargement of the valve to his aorta, the body’s main blood vessel. It’s a condition most people only find out about after the aorta ruptures, which is usually fatal.

As Green lay on an operating table at the Cleveland Clinic drifting off from the anesthesia, Dr. Lars Svensson reassured him he’d play again. But when the country’s top aortic valve surgeon opened Green’s chest, even he was shocked at the aorta being so paper-thin and on the verge of rupturing.

“Fortunately we operated on him before that happened,” Dr. Svensson told Cleveland 19 News. “When that does happen, saving patients is really difficult.”

The procedure lasted for five hours, with Green’s heart stopped for an hour of it. But the rehab was far, far longer.

Durant — who grew up in Prince George’s County (Md.) at the same time as Green, and played with him in Seattle/Oklahoma City — visited him after the surgery. And it was an arduous road to walking and even breathing, much less running and jumping.

“When you have the surgery, it’s a chainsaw to the ribs that’s cutting through the whole nervous system,” Green said. “After all the nervous shock to your whole body, then you have to train your lungs again. You have to learn to do everything. It’s basically starting from scratch.

“Training your lungs to take one deep breath — not two, one powerful deep breath — was the hardest thing ever. That’s why I tell people it’s like being a baby. Taking that first breath is probably the most difficult thing ever.”

Now Green still has a long 9-inch scar from his neck to the top of his abdomen, and three sewn-up holes from tubes that’d been inserted during the surgery. But he’s owned those scars and reimagined them as badges of honor.

Spencer Dinwiddie has always had a love for Iron Man, but now Green is the Nets player that most embodies the hero with shrapnel in his chest and surgical scars.

“Me and the character have a lot in common,” Green said. “After the surgery I did a PSA with some kids, and I asked one, ‘What’s something that helps you? Family?’ He said, ‘No, I viewed myself as being different, as being a superhero.’

“And that was the thing that stuck with me. Iron Man — boom. I loved the movie already, but it made me more attached to it. It stuck with me and I ride with it. It helped spark that motivation to keep wanting to be better, see myself as different.”

Green not only joined Etan Thomas and Ronny Turiaf among the few to return to the NBA after open-heart surgery, but now he’s leading a Nets team that should contend for a title.

Hitting a career-high 42.2 percent from 3, he’s also a locker-room leader. His postgame address after a loss in Detroit helped spur an NBA-high six-game winning streak. And off the court, he’s looking to do his part as well.

“We’re in talks to figure out the next step,” Green said of Harboring Hearts. “Whether that be auctioning shoes, jerseys, tickets, anything that can help the families. So we’re in talks trying to figure out ways that can help.”

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

Donald Douglas, the longtime executive director of the Public School Athletic League, died late Friday night, according to friend and PSAL colleague Dwayne Burnett.

Douglas was 58, according to his Facebook page.

Douglas died of a heart attack, while vacationing on the island of Jamaica, after a bad fall eventually caused a blood clot to form, according to Burnett. The Brooklyn native and Bushwick High School alum had retired this week from his post. He was PSAL director since 2004, when he was promoted from deputy director, and spent more than 35 years working for the New York City Department of Education.

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

The 2021 fantasy baseball draft season is upon us, and with its arrival comes a variety of strategies to test out and employ.

Drafting with position scarcity in mind is something we see every year, and though the catcher position is routinely linked to the strategy, the belief that you need to draft one of the top backstops early is a mistake. If you have been leaning in that direction, it’s time to change gears before you fall over.

In fantasy football, position scarcity has people drafting No. 1-ranked tight end Travis Kelce early because, in securing him, you are obtaining a significant advantage over your opposition. His production dwarfs that of anyone else at his position and on a 10-man roster in a weekly matchup, the impact is huge. The same cannot be said regarding the No. 1 catcher, J.T. Realmuto.

There is plenty to love about Realmuto from a fantasy perspective. His three-year average has him as a .273 hitter with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. The numbers are strong, but does drafting him in the fourth or fifth round over a 40-homer Pete Alonso or a 200-strikeout Lance Lynn still give you an advantage? Not when you understand it’s just one-fourteenth of your overall team production or when you see what you can get at the position several rounds later.

Casting aside 2020 data, we can look at a number of backstops who not only hit 20 or more home runs, but also hit .270 or better in 2019 and can be obtained at a much lower cost. Willson Contreras, Mitch Garver, Christian Vazquez and Omar Narvaez immediately stand out.

JT Realmuto
JT Realmuto
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You also have players such as Yasmani Grandal and Roberto Perez, who matched the power, but fell short on the batting average, or James McCann and Travis d’Arnaud, who posted strong averages, but hit for slightly less power. That’s already eight players who can provide similar numbers at a fraction of the cost, and we’re just scratching the surface.

If Realmuto was a .300-30-100 player, the conversation would certainly be different. He’s a great player but he isn’t performing at a level that leaves your opposition in the dust. If his production can be matched 10 rounds later, you’re better off using that early pick on an elite arm or a bigger bat at another position. Leave your catchers for later.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso wasn’t the only big voice in the Mets organization to deactivate his social media accounts over the offseason.

But the first baseman going dark on Twitter and Instagram had nothing to do with the aftermath of a stock market saga, which was the reason owner Steve Cohen ditched Twitter, and everything to do with a new outlook on life away from a screen.

“I think that real life is just absolutely fantastic and for me, I think life is a blessing, it’s something that I feel like a lot of people, sometimes including myself, take for granted,” Alonso said Friday after a workout. “And I want to spend every second soaking in every single day because every single new day is a blessing, and I feel like especially in wake of what happened last year, there’s a lot of things that I feel like were taken for granted.

“In 2019, if you see everybody wearing this mask, you kind of scratch your head and just be like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ But there’s a lot of new social norms that are in place now that we took for granted. I think for me, I just want to be appreciative of every single day. I want to live in real life.”

Alonso had been one of the more active Mets interacting with fans through social media, especially during his Rookie of the Year season in 2019, when he adopted “#LFGM” as the team’s new rallying cry.

Though he will no longer be in touch with fans online, Alonso is very much looking forward to welcoming them back in person at Citi Field this season. After playing at an empty stadium in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Mets are expected to have at least a portion of Citi Field open to fans when the 2021 season begins.

“Playing on TV is absolutely fantastic, but being there in person where one swing of the bat or making a diving play or striking somebody out, you can make that many people in person smile, stand, clap, cheer, yell even just by doing something,” Alonso said, with a big smile breaking out. “Once I heard 40,000 people at Citi Field go absolutely bonkers, that’s an adrenaline rush that I’m addicted to.

“I can’t wait until it’s packed out again like that. If it’s 25 percent, 30 percent, I can’t wait to hear people cheer again in person. For me, it’s addicting, and I love it.”

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