The green tie. The green socks.
MarShon Brooks credited his mother for picking them out on the day he was introduced as a member of the Celtics, his new team after arriving in a massive trade with Brooklyn.
“The green? I love the green, I love what it stands for,” the 24-year-old swingman said Monday at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham, his face beaming with excitement.
Brooks had a chance to wear the green in 2011, when the Celtics selected the Providence star in the first round, 25th overall. But the Celtics’ brass cut short the storybook narrative of “local standout gets called up by nearby pro franchise” when it dealt Brooks that same night to the New Jersey Nets for forward JaJuan Johnson, the 27th overall selection, and a second-round pick.
So, Brooks began his NBA career not with the team up the road from where he played college ball, but in New Jersey.
He played 129 games with the Nets the last two seasons, averaging 12.6 points in a promising rookie season but just 5.4 the last, as the minutes and shots were ultimately eaten up by Nets guard Joe Johnson, leaving Brooks on the bench, his growth stunted.
“It lit a fire under me, honestly,” Brooks said. “It’s a situation that I never want to go through again, to say the least.”
Though the Celtics are still in the process of making roster moves to clear space and shed salary while adding another player or two, Brooks figures to have a chance to re-establish himself next season, especially on a young team entering a rebuild.
It also gives the Celtics a second chance at a player that, with hindsight being what it is, they should’ve kept from the start. It was something Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acknowledged, saying Brooks “made us look bad by being a terrific young player, especially his rookie year.”
Brooks, who averaged 24.6 points per game his senior season in Providence, started 47 games as a rookie and played in 56. He averaged 29.4 minutes, and shot 42.8 percent from the field. He was named an All-Rookie Second Team selection and entered this past season with high expectations, including becoming the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Brooks played well in the first three games, averaging 10.3 points, but then in a morning shootaround before the fourth game against the Orlando Magic, he stepped on center Andray Blatche’s foot during a pick-and-roll coverage drill.
Nets coach Avery Johnson called it a “freak injury.” It was officially deemed a sprained left ankle. But regardless, Brooks’s season went downhill from there. The minutes he had been receiving were gone and they never came back.
“I just don’t like being on the bench,” he said. “I’m going to work as hard as possible to make sure that never happens again.”
The Celtics also acquired Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Wallace from Brooklyn, but Brooks has become perhaps their most intriguing new player.
“MarShon has been playing in the NBA and the guy we drafted [Johnson] is not right now,” Ainge said. “MarShon at the time [was] not at a position we really needed, but we have followed him really closely, from Providence and his NBA career.
“We’re excited to have him here.”
(Let the record show that Brooks will wear No. 12 for the Celtics — the same number Johnson wore when he played for the Celtics.)
And for Brooks, there’s a lot of excitement about the opportunity to come back and reboot his NBA career where it could have started.
“It’s a great feeling, even when I was just walking through the hall to go talk to Mr. Ainge, just seeing all the greats while you’re walking through the hallways,” Brooks said.
“If you really believe in yourself and you walk by and see Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Bill Russell, it gives you that extra oomph, before you go shoot.
“It’s great, man.”