TORONTO – When thinking about Toronto Raptors shooting guard Danny Green, what are some of the first things that come to mind?
As a former NBA All-Defensive team selection, “stopper” is an appropriate one.
Or, as former San Antonio Spurs teammate Cory Joseph described him the 39.5 per cent shooter from three-point range, how about a guy who can “shoot the hell out of the ball”?
Perhaps, as this summer proved to be for him, “Kawhi whisperer” could be appropriate, too.
But his most enduring characteristic might be the fact he’s a winner.
It may be a sports cliché, but when you look back at the 31-year-old’s career just as he’s entering his 10th NBA season, you can see definitive proof: An NCAA national title and an NBA ring, making him just the third University of North Carolina player in history to have captured both, joining the likes of some guys named James Worthy and Michael Jordan.
However, he didn’t become a winner overnight — in fact there was a good chance things would’ve ended up a lot differently than they did now.
Playing the last three years of his high school ball out of St. Mary’s High School on Long Island in New York City, Green became a McDonald’s All-American player in his senior year before he would go on a four-year journey at North Carolina that would prove to shape him greatly.
During his freshman year, Green was the Tar Heels’ sixth man and averaged 7.5 points on 35.5 per cent shooting from three-point range in 15.3 minutes per game. Not a spectacular first season, but certainly not terrible.
Then, in his sophomore year, disaster struck when Green’s father, Danny Green Sr., was arrested and then incarcerated for 22 months on charges he was a participant in a multimillion-dollar cocaine distribution network that the family maintains he was innocent of.
As a result, Green, who had been coached by his father up to the ninth grade, saw his play suffer greatly in his second season at UNC as his father’s situation clearly weighed on his mind.
“My sophomore year was probably my toughest time. I wasn’t playing,” Green told the New York Daily News before the 2013 NBA Finals. “I went from sixth man my freshman year to not playing much at all my sophomore year. I was thinking about transferring. It was a very tough time. A lot of things off the court were going on. It wasn’t easy.”
Green persevered and fought through his adversity to turn everything around in his junior and senior seasons.
Regaining his sixth-man role during the 2007-08 campaign, he averaged 11.5 points per game on a restored and improved 37.3 per cent clip from deep in 22.3 minutes per game and a Final Four performance.
Then, during his senior season, playing for a UNC squad that many consider among the best in program’s illustrious history, Green soared to whole new heights in a starting role to averages of 13.1 points, 41.8 …read more