In the midst of success for Golden State Warriors power forward and three-time NBA champion Draymond Green, the Michigan State alumnus will make a trip back to East Lansing on Dec. 3 for the retirement of his No. 23 jersey. Green will become the 10th player in Michigan State history to have their jersey retired.
"I was absolutely blown away when Coach Izzo informed me that my jersey would be retired at Michigan State," said Green according to a release from Michigan State on Oct. 28. "This is an honor that I don't take lightly and, quite honestly, will be one of the major highlights of my career. ...It is simply awesome to think that my jersey will hang in the rafters along with the likes of Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves and Steve Smith, just to name a few of the iconic Spartans in our rich basketball history."
Before being chosen by Golden State in the 2012 NBA draft as the second round, 35th overall pick, Green played as a forward for the Spartans from 2008-2012. During his time in the green and white, he won three Big Ten regular season championships, one Big Ten tournament championship and appeared in back to back Final Fours in 2009 and 2010. He also received National Player of the Year honors in 2012, an achievement only three other MSU players have reached.
The Saginaw, Michigan native is the all-time leading rebounder in Michigan State history and the runner-up in career blocks. However, Green wasn’t always Michigan State’s all-star.
The 6-foot-7 forward played off the bench his freshman year, averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Green worked his way to become one of the most productive players of the Izzo era ahead of his senior year, where he averaged to 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Izzo praised Green for his dedication to improvement and growth as a player during a press conference on Dec. 2, the day before Green’s jersey will be retired.
“It is not illegal to have a process in your life. In most walks of life it is a normality to have that, but in basketball it's not, and some kids get torn apart that way, but Draymond didn’t,” Izzo said.
Green found himself as a player during his time at Michigan State, and the now 29-year-old praised East Lansing and Izzo for providing him an opportunity “to achieve my dreams and laid the groundwork that has enabled me to become a champion."
And Green has extended his championship ways beyond Michigan State.
In his eight seasons in the NBA, aside from clinching three NBA titles, Green is a three-time NBA All Star. In 2017, Green was awarded NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Izzo praised Green’s achievements of not only making it to the professional court, but making a name for himself as a player on the national stage as well. And although it’s been almost eight years since Green played for MSU, Izzo says he still uses Green as an example to his players.
“I use him with his defense, I use him with his rebounding, I use him with his toughness, I use him with his patience,” Izzo said. “I think a lot of coaches use Draymond not only for his toughness, not only for his basketball IQ, but the fact that it’s not when you get to the NBA, it's if you get to the NBA and if you get there, are you ready to stay in the NBA? And I think that’s what Draymond has proven and done such a great job of.”