From Humble Beginnings, Green Adds a Veteran Presence for Raptors
“Those are the reasons why some guys stick around…”
The path to NBA success wasn’t necessarily the most conventional for Danny Green. No doubt, it was the road least traveled by.
Growing up as a two-sport athlete, Green spent four years playing basketball at the University of North Carolina. Prior to declaring for the 2009, the 6-foot-6 guard helped UNC hoist a NCAA National Championship. But what followed was a very long road to proving that he belongs in the NBA.
Drafted 46th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Draft, he was waived the following season after only playing in 20 games the year prior. He then played for a couple of G League teams and even spent some time overseas playing for KK Union Olimpija in Slovenia during the 2011 NBA lockout.
All of his hard work would eventually pay off as he found his way back to the NBA as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Becoming one of the top three-point shooters in the league, Green also brought a defensive mindset to the Spurs, playing a pivotal role in their 2014 NBA championship run.
Now, in his tenth year in the league, he realizes why constantly-adapting players like him survive in the NBA long-term.
“[They’re] are the reasons why some guys stick around and appreciate where they are,” explains Green while looking back on his career. “Guys that haven’t been given [everything] right away, usually these guys last a little longer and appreciate it more, but you know, not every success story is the same. Not everyone has a rollercoaster story and some people have to go through adversity to get to this point in their career or get to this point in life.”
A journey filled with peaks and valleys, Green understands better than most the sacrifices that it took to get to the point he is at in his career.
“People think it’s easy, man, but it’s not,” says the 31-year old shooting guard.” Best way I can put it is as much as we enjoy the fruits of our labour, there’s so many sacrifices involved – not spending time with your family, holidays, the games we had to give up when we were younger – we were never playing video games inside all day and going to parties, we were working out, in the gym, practicing.
Even in college, we’re on the road, we got to do school, we had to do all those things. We couldn’t party like the average person or be home with family. But it is all worth it when you get the results and succeed on this level, but there is a lot of sacrifices, things a lot of people are not willing to give up.”
In his first year with the Toronto Raptors, Green’s presence on the roster has very quickly been noticed – not only for his ability to stretch the floor and play defense, but for his leadership both on and off the court.
“It’s a fresh start,” he says. ” It’s a different pace, a different system so everybody can thrive and play pretty good basketball. I have a different role here, leadership – more of a voice in the locker room.”
As the Raptors took on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night, it was the shabby veteran Green who helped delivery the win in the absence of Kawhi Leonard.
“Well, hopefully keep it going because it happens every year,” Said Green after his 24-point performance against the Grizzlies. “People have good parts to the season. I think last year I had a great start, but had an injury and it kinda went downhill from there. Hopefully I can keep this going in the second half of the season.”
As a former NBA champion with the Spurs, Green brings the championship makeup that any team looking to compete requires. That being said, the sharpshooter sees the similarities between the 2014 Spurs and this year’s Toronto Raptors.
“We have a lot of depth,” says Green. “When guys come back, we’re going to be an even deeper team. Even the year we won it, we had guys in and out the lineup. Hurt, injuries, came back when they felt healthy. I think right now we’re lacking a little bit of maturity and discipline, but when we get that, we definitely will have potential to do some special stuff.”
A proven champion on both the collegiate and NBA level, Green is now a leader and the veteran presence on a very talented Toronto Raptors team.