An iron-clad resilience spanning decades, unerring consistency in preparation and execution, and a steadfast commitment towards utilizing the power of basketball to bring about positive change- these are just a small handful of qualities which the NBA’s Legendary ‘Iron Man’ A.C. Green embodies and will be bringing to Indian basketball. Green has just signed on as Director of Sports for the UBA, which has successfully conducted four jam-packed seasons since 2015 and the fifth season is right on the horizon.
(Watch A.C. Green talk about joining the UBA and his vision for basketball in India here)
“Today, we continue our commitment to India and the game of basketball by adding a key member to our team who brings the game’s highest level of professionalism to the UBA," said Tommy Fisher, UBA Chairman. "We’re excited to have A.C. as part of our team and look forward to continued growth of basketball in India.”
Green earned the nickname 'Iron Man' for playing in an NBA record 1,192 consecutive games over 16 seasons. Green did not miss a single game from 19 November 1986 to 18 April 2001. He had surgery on his thumb early in his career and missed three games, then never missed another game in his career. Green’s Iron Man record still stands strong today.
"He played 16 years and missed less than five games, who's gonna do that again?" said NBA's all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about A.C. Green.
Green was drafted 23rd overall in the 1st Round of 1985 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He arrived in the NBA having made a mark in college as he had won PAC-10 Player of the Year award at Oregon State, where his number 45 is now retired. Green went on to win three NBA Championships with the Lakers, in 1987 and 1988 with the Showtime Lakers' Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and again in 2000 with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
"I've never seen a nicer athlete, one of the most polite young men I've ever met. An incredible delight to be around," said Jerry West, Lakers legend and former Lakers GM about A.C. Green in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.
With the Lakers, Green developed as an efficient power forward who made a name for himself with his gritty play and also made it to the NBA All-Star team in 1990. Over his 16-year career, Green scored more than 12,300 points and his name stands among the league’s top all-time rebounders, being 18th overall in NBA history for offensive rebounds.
“Basketball is such an important part of my life and I am happy to be heading to India once again to help further the growth and development of the sport I love," exuded Green. "The UBA has made great strides in the last two years and I look forward to building upon that success.”
Green is no stranger to India, having visited in 2009 and 2010 as a part of NBA's grassroots programs. In his visit in 2009, Green had spoken about the need for a professional league in India, saying "There are only 12 players in a team but to take the game at the grassroots level and make it more competitive we need to develop leagues in India." Almost prophetically, he will now be an integral part of the journey to take Indian basketball to the next level.
Green brings an upper echelon of basketball credentials coupled with a long-standing commitment towards guiding the youth towards a brighter future through the medium of basketball. Green established the A.C. Green Youth Foundation in 1989, to help young people build self-esteem and character, and learn moral and ethical principles which will help them make responsible decisions. In addition to his travels to India, Green has traveled to China, Mexico, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines for speaking appearances. His tremendous humanitarian efforts have earned Green a spot in the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
This marks the first time that an NBA legend of Green's caliber would be working so closely with India's best basketball players to help take their game to the next level. There are only a handful of players with Green's experience, only 61 players in the history of NBA have played more seasons than Green. No one even comes close to matching his Iron Man streak, he shattered the previous record by 286 games.
His consistency and professionalism in maintaining such a streak speak volumes about the passion, motivation, hunger, humility and work ethic which he brought to work every single game, night in and night out. And it is that level of dedication which he will now profusely infuse in India's professional basketball league.
Shooting a basketball at night, you can observe stars through that rim perched 10 feet high, guiding your shot, and they twinkle all the merrier when the ball swishes through the hoop. Sometimes, that's all a young kid needs to shoot for the stars, a vision of a goal within one's grasp which drives us to transcend our limits.
When basketball players in India give the sport their all, they will have a chance to be guided by a living legend of a star who has played basketball at the highest level, won multiple championships, and established a run of consistency so mind-bogglingly strong that it defies comprehension. That star is now helping to give shape to the dreams of young basketball players in India.
The game has just been raised high to a new level yet again, and it is only the beginning of a whole new streak.