Green plays hard and smart. He’s a hungry offensive rebounder, but he’s not crashing the glass willy-nilly, leaving the indefatigable Grizzlies in the lurch going the other way.
But when he senses a chance — an open corridor to the rim, a size mismatch — Green revs his motor to its highest gear:
That is smart basketball. Green drills little Ty Lawson with a pick, realizes Lawson is stuck on his back, and darts through a swath of open space for a putback Jam-Jam. The Grizzlies win because they stay within themselves, minimize mistakes, and play hard every damn second. Green has absorbed that ethos.
As Bell tells it, not once did the Steelers organization try to implement a three-strikes plan or deliver an empty pep talk. Tomlin didn’t castigate the player he affectionately calls “Juice” because of a smooth open-field running style similar to O.J. Simpson. The edict: Come back stronger for the final 13 games.
That’s exactly what Bell feels he needed to hear. Bell said he explained to several teammates, sometimes in groups, exactly what happened, and they believed the story was plausible. When asked by ESPN to retell the story, Bell cited a short-lived Twitter video in which he explains the confusion over an early-morning testing time and scheduling issues. In the video, which he posted and removed, Bell said he hadn’t smoked marijuana since December 2014.
By now, Bell has eased those concerns with his play (though his past might cause trepidation for the Steelers when it comes to a potential megadeal long term). But from the very beginning, his Steelers teammates were publicly supportive, more inclined to encourage the hard-working and likable Bell than lanky receiver Martavis Bryant, who has missed 20 regular-season games because of marijuana-related offenses. The tone Bell set in meetings and on-field work each day offset any potential character concerns because, as several players have said, “he works his ass off.”