Danny Green of the Spurs returns home to host basketball camp in North Babylon
What if someone had approached Danny Green when he was playing in the Developmental League in 2011 and told him that in about two years he'd be breaking records in the NBA Finals?
"I would have thought they were on drugs or something," Green said Tuesday with a laugh.
Yes, it's not every day that a player goes from the roster of a team called the Reno Bighorns to the pages of the NBA record books.
But that's what Green did, although those stops were just two of many along his basketball journey. This week he returned to where it all began, the town of North Babylon, where he is hosting the fourth annual Team Green Basketball Camp at Robert Moses Middle School.
"This is my hometown," Green said. "I always want to show love to the people here. They always showed me support and love so I want to give that back to them."
He gave them plenty of reason to cheer during the first five games of the NBA Finals. He helped the Spurs take a 3-2 advantage over the Heat in the series by hitting 25 three-pointers, which broke Ray Allen's record of 22 set in 2008.
During that stretch, Green hit 65.8 percent of his threes (25-for-38), including 7 of 9 shots from downtown in a 27-point performance in Game 3, and 6 of 10 in a 24-point performance in Game 5. He was leading the Spurs in scoring for the series at 18 points per game and considered the favorite to win series MVP.
"The record and the MVP talk meant a lot, but obviously winning the championship was more important than anything," he said. "I'd rather be in the books for winning a ring than hitting some shots."
He was seconds away from being in the books for both.
Although Green was held to just three points, shooting 1-for-7 in Game 6, the Spurs were nursing a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter. That's when Allen compensated for losing his record by hitting one of the biggest threes in NBA history to tie the score with 5.2 seconds left.
Yet it was a play prior to Allen's shot that haunts Green most from Game 6.
With the Spurs up five, Green contested a straightaway three by LeBron James off an inbounds pass. James missed badly and as the fight for the loose ball ensued, Green drifted slightly toward midcourt awaiting an outlet pass that never came. The Heat grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it back out to James, who hit an open three to cut the lead to two with 20.1 seconds left.
"I was the one kind of sleeping on the rebound," Green said. "They got the offensive rebound and I kind of was in a float and I didn't get to LeBron. I should have stayed with him. That's the play where my biggest mistakes were made."
Green, who finished the series with 27 three-pointers, shot just 1-for-12 in Game 7.
"I'm not going to take anything away from Miami," he said of his struggles in the last two games of the series. "They played great defense. They did a good job of not letting me get free. Even when I got free on the shots I did take, they were very well contested."
The night of Game 7, Green ran into James, his former teammate in Cleveland, at a nightclub in Miami and congratulated him on winning the title. Green says that James told him how proud he was to see how far he has come since his rookie year.
His breakout season ended with compliments from the best player in the world.
Green, who is hosting one camp session this week and another next week, hopes his journey from the D-League to the record books serves as an inspiration for the kids.
"Not everything comes easy," he said. "A lot of guys have talent but talent is not what gets you to the NBA. Some guys take the long route to get to where they are and I happen to be one of those guys. But you can't give up, because any given day, your opportunity can come and you have to be ready for it."