Danny Green eventually succeeded with the San Antonio Spurs, but he wasn’t embraced by the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili right away.
While it was the Cleveland Cavaliers that drafted Danny Green in 2009, the San Antonio Spurs gave him the big break he needed to establish himself as a solid NBA talent. It wasn’t always a smooth ride, as Green had to prove himself to Gregg Popovich to carve out a meaningful role on a team that was already a well-oiled machine.
While it’s tough for any newcomer to earn meaningful minutes in Pop’s system, it wasn’t only the respect of his head coach that Danny needed to earn. Officially joining the San Antonio Spurs in 2010-11, he spent most of his time with the Austin Toros or on the bench.
However, the following season, Green’s shooting and defensive abilities started to earn him more playing time and recognition from his peers. As the three-time champion recently revealed, however, being embraced by the Big Three wasn’t something that came right away.
On the debut episode of his podcast, The Carolina Conversation, Green’s former UNC teammate Shammond Williams spoke to Danny about his time in San Antonio. As he explained, each member of the Big Three had a different approach to interactions with Green at first.
“It takes a year or two to earn those guys’ respect, said Green. “Obviously, they embrace you, but back then it wasn’t as open and warm as my later years there. Tony [Parker] doesn’t really talk to you that much. Tim [Duncan] was a little quiet. Manu [Ginobili] probably did a little more talking, more helping.”
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While it sounds negative, Danny Green understood how established Tim, Tony, and Manu were when he arrived in the Alamo City. As he explained, they were all established All-Stars with one goal in mind: to win.
As he continued to prove himself to the team, the Big Three began to embrace Green more, especially the organization’s centerpiece, Tim Duncan.
“Once you get their respect, [they’re] the greatest guys in the world,” said Green. Tim was always the greatest guy in the world. If Pop threw you in the fire, he was gonna make sure we’re gonna cover for you. Tony was just like, you’re going to have to figure it out. I’m here — if I give you a signal, you better figure it out. It was different personalities but Timmy was the greatest.”
While Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili were always laser-focused on helping the team succeed, they all positively impacted Danny Green, mentoring him to eventually become an important weapon in the Spurs back-to-back NBA Finals runs in 2013 and 2014.
Although he’s won two more championships with two new teams since his 2014 title with the Spurs, it’s nice to see Danny Green still light up when reflecting on his San Antonio days.