Lakers’ Danny Green falls into union role, and it’s a good fit
As he went through college, Danny Green didn’t know what his professional life would entail. He wasn’t a highly rated prospect despite coming out of North Carolina. He didn’t know if he’d have a long career in the NBA.
When he thought about his future, it often meant thinking about a career in media like broadcasters he admired, people like Stuart Scott, Ahmad Rashad and Kenny Smith.
Then it turned out Green had a future in the NBA, and a lengthy one at that. So he made sure basketball wasn’t the only skill he fine-tuned during his playing time.
“When I was younger I just wanted to be involved and understanding and learning more about the system, the league,” Green said by phone on Wednesday. “The Players Association. The Association period. As I got older people just looked to me and I was chosen. It wasn’t even really my choice.”
It’s Green’s job these days to make sure his teammates have all the information he’s been gathering. He’s the Lakers’ player representative to the NBPA, a role with the players’ union that he’s had several times in the past. Veteran forward Jared Dudley is the Lakers’ alternative representative. After calls with union leadership, Green sends detailed text messages on the Lakers’ group chat, fields questions and tries to illuminate during an uncertain time.
“I get pretty detailed,” said Green, who is in his 11th season and turns 33 next month. “I just let them know exactly what’s going on. The secrets are, there’s no real secrets. Most of the stuff that’s going on is out there. … Stay positive, stay in shape, we should be hearing something by this time, we should be playing by this time. you know, just be ready, be on call. Just main bullet points that they need to know.”
Since the NBA shut down operations because of the coronavirus on March 11, the modes of communication have become digital. Teams have held conference calls among their executives, and with their players.
The NBPA also has held regular calls with its members throughout the pandemic. At first they were large group calls across the league to update players on the union’s conversations with the NBA. Recently, the union has begun conducting calls with individual teams.
“The group calls, anybody could kind of jump on,” Green said. “There were guys that they figured were on that shouldn’t have been on. Maybe some media people that shouldn’t have been on were on. So they wanted to keep some things under wraps before they were announced. Didn’t want things leaking out.”
Green tries to keep his teammates aware of the financial situation they’re facing. Players began to lose 25% of their salaries starting in mid-May. Green wants them aware of how much they’ve lost so far and how much they stand to lose if the season had been canceled altogether. It’s why Green said they were intent on finishing the season “by all means necessary.”
The induction ceremony for Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the rest of the class will take place in early 2021, separate from the 2021 induction.
He’s hopeful. He thinks the season could even start sooner than late July, which is the time frame the NBA has said it has been discussing with Disney as it seeks to resume the season at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World.
When he isn’t handling his responsibilities as a player representative, Green has spent some of his time fielding endless interview requests, recording his podcast “Inside the Green Room” and working out in the gym he’s built in his home or at the beach. Green insists he isn’t aware of any group workouts that, according to The Athletic, LeBron James has been coordinating.
He’s quarantined with his girlfriend, Blair Bashen, his two dogs and his brother Devonte.
His brother arrived a few weeks ago after graduating, virtually, from Indiana University. Devonte had hoped to have a tournament season strong enough to catch the eye of NBA teams.
“Disappointing is the right word,” Danny Green said. “He wasn’t a guy that was up in the lottery on the draft board. This could have only helped him. The fact that he wasn’t able to get his NCAA tournament or [finish] his Big 10 tournament — those tournaments change teams, change players and help them at the next level. … Not being able to walk and graduate, those are things that you remember forever.”
His brother is also part of the reason Green is motivated to be involved in the NBPA’s operations, but not all of it. He wants to be part of helping NBA alumni as well as future players.
“I care about the game of basketball and the next generation and want to make it better for them,” Green said. “I’ll be, in the future, the old guy. It’s a fraternity you gotta make sure that it comes full circle where everybody is getting taken care of.”
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