Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A look back at Draymond Green: The Spartan

The Warriors cornerstone is making another trip to the NBA Finals

June 2, 2022
<p>Then-senior forward Draymond Green speaks with reporters after the Spartans lost to Louisville Thursday evening at US Airways Center in Pheonix, Arizona. The Spartans fell to the Cardinals 57-44. Matt Hallowell/The State News</p>

Then-senior forward Draymond Green speaks with reporters after the Spartans lost to Louisville Thursday evening at US Airways Center in Pheonix, Arizona. The Spartans fell to the Cardinals 57-44. Matt Hallowell/The State News

Photo by Matt Hallowell | The State News

When the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics tip off in the NBA Finals on Thursday night, Draymond Green will be on the floor, just as he has in six of the last eight years. He has been a cornerstone to the Warriors dynasty and his leadership and hustle have been a Golden State staple since he was drafted.

Though he’s found himself in the midst of a successful NBA career, his outspoken energy and gritty play pre-date his professional days; for four years the Saginaw, Michigan native called East Lansing home where deep tournament runs first became familiar to the Spartan.

Here’s a look back at his college years in photos:

Four-year career

In 145 games played for the Spartans, the forward averaged 10.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

During his time in the green and white, Green was a First Team All-American, a Big Ten Tournament Champion and made two trips to the Final Four.

In his senior year, Green averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists. At the time his stats were only comparable to NBA Legend Tim Duncan's 1996-1997 season for Wake Forest and the efforts put him in serious consideration for Player of the Year.

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Green earned Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in his sophomore season.

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His charisma made him a fan favorite and his play would later define 'Spartan Dawg'.

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The Carrier Classic

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On Nov. 12, 2012, during Green's senior season, the Spartans took a trip to San Diego, California to play the Tar Heels on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. The game was played in remembrance of Veteran's Day and President Barack Obama, a well-known basketball fan, and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance. Michigan State fell to North Carolina 67-55, but the game lives on to be one of the most unique experiences in basketball history.

Before the game, Green made the decision that he wouldn't wear his normal No. 23. On the deck of the carrier, Green wore No. 10, honoring teammate Delvon Roe who was forced to retire from basketball due to injury.

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That time he played football

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Green suited up and played some tight-end during Michigan State football's 2011 Spring Game. It didn't go great. That's about all that can be said about this one.

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Big Ten Champion

He's better at basketball than he is at football. A lot better.

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In 2012, after already clinching the Big Ten regular-season title, the senior led Michigan State past Ohio State to win the Big Ten Tournament. Green won MVP.

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Draft Day

Following a spectacular senior year, Green saw his NBA dream come true when he was drafted No. 35 in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.

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Jersey Retirement

Few Spartans have done more for Michigan State both during their time as a player and after.

Soon after he inked a five-year, $82 million dollar contract extension with the Warriors in 2015, he donated $3.1 million to Michigan State. One million dollars of his donation was used to build the 'Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center' inside of the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, and the Hall of History which fans frequent before games now. The rest was put toward scholarship assistance.

Green saw his number go into the rafters next to the rest of the Spartan greats in 2019.

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Draymond Green and Tom Izzo

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Green spent his entire career playing under Head Coach Tom Izzo where the pair built a relationship that has stretched long past his days in the green and white.

As Green worked to help the Warriors get past the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals, his old coach reached out to him over text after a game two that was riddled with fouls and high on emotions.

Green shared the text on his podcast, The Draymond Green Show, the day after the game. 

“Day, shaky but you got the job done. In my humble opinion, you all got caught up in the officiating. You’ve got to realize that you’re the leader and many follow,” Izzo said, “That being said, you hit a big 3-point shot and a couple of big stops were key. They follow your lead, but you’re still up 2-0. Good luck, brother.”

Izzo’s text might’ve been an echo of words he told him a decade ago because as Green went, so did the Spartans.

Golden State would go on to win the series 4-1 and the Green would follow the win by correctly predicting their Finals opponent to Shaquille O’Neal during a segment of NBA on TNT.

“There’s the Draymond I know,” O’Neal responded after Green’s outright prediction. But to understand the Draymond the world knows now, the Warrior, it might be helpful to take a look back at Draymond the Spartan.

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