Special to THB: The Green Smile

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday former Tar Heel guard Danny Green became the 15th UNC alum to win an NBA title as a player. UNC grad and local writer Jordan Rogers talks to Bobby Frasor about his former teammate's journey from NCAA title winner to NBA champion.

"Eric, how could you not tell me about that?" I said.

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"What do I mean? People would want to hear about that. It’s a great story. I could write something on it. Fans love this kind of stuff."

"It really wasn’t a big deal." he said.

Those words between Eric and I over a biscuit at Bojangles were going to be the opening to a feature I had been working on about Danny Green. The idea was to give the national audience that was getting to know him something to chew on, a dose of his personality that’s so visibly charming to everyone. And I was right. Eric’s story is a great story, even if he’s just as right that it’s really not a big deal.

Two weeks before Christmas in 2012, Eric—Director of one of the many fantastic Boys & Girls Clubs in North Carolina—called Danny as he was flying into Charlotte to play the Bobcats. Eric was bringing a van’s load of youngsters to the game and wanted to see if there was anything special an old college buddy could do for the kids.

I’m sure he just expected for Danny to come say "hey" in person or something after the game, but Green, only seven months away from exploding in the 2013 Finals (and after shooting 80%, hitting seven three-pointers, and scoring 23 points against the former Bobcats that night), went ahead and got the kids court passes after the game, personally brought Popovich and other players over to say hey and crack a few jokes, and made sure to stop and tell the kids that guys like Eric were the real MVP.

I can only imagine that if the kids knew who any of the Bobcats players were, Danny would have brought some of them out too. Either way, I’m sure they will never forget that experience.

The way Eric describes the whole story is the best part. Because he’s right. Stuff like this shouldn’t be a big deal. When you’re a legitimately nice guy, taking 30 minutes out of your day to help a Boys & Girls Club shouldn’t warrant a parade or a marketing push from the NBA, but, again, that’s what I loved about this. No one ever knew about it. "It really wasn’t a big deal."

For whatever reason, we Americans love to hear about someone who stays down to earth and, for lack of a better term, "cool" even when becoming pretty seriously famous. Danny’s no different. And it’s hard as a fan or former classmate to not want to revisit some of the stories and tales "from the crib" for someone who is not only the winningest Tar Heel basketball player in UNC history, but has recently joined Worthy and Jordan as the only Tar Heels with both NCAA and NBA titles.

So that’s what I did. And I went to one of the best sources around.

Rogers: Did you see this kind of success from Danny back then?

Bobby Frasor: Probably not to be honest. I was at the draft in 2009 and was happy for him because it was a dream of his to be drafted, but I knew the reality of being a second round pick. But, the thing Danny had going for him was his work ethic. I can always look back to our time in college where he would spend countless hours in the gym getting shots up. The funny thing about it was it would always be at like one or two in the morning. Danny has some unique sleeping habits, but I guess that’s a New York thing.

Do you think he caught any breaks?

Danny Ferry drafted DG, so of course you’re going to have a connection there. After he was released by the Cavs, Ferry had moved on to the Spurs front office, and probably vouched for Danny and told the Spurs to take a look at him. But with that said, when Danny got his opportunity he was fully prepared and made the most of it as we’re seeing now.

What has surprised you about how his game has translated to the NBA?

It’s funny because coming from NY, Danny has always had a little New York street ball in his game. He loved dribbling. I remember one film session in college where Coach Williams counted his consecutive dribbles and it was something ridiculous for a wing player, like 14 or 15, and he probably took all of those bounces in one location.

In college, Danny would make so many plays. You would look at a box score after the game and whether he played 10 minutes or 30, he always seemed to have stats in literally every category: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, even with turnovers. He loved to gamble, which didn’t make Coach Williams happy and was probably a reason why he didn’t start until our senior year.

One thing that doesn’t surprise me is his three-point percentage, which has been amazing in the NBA. I can understand that because of his work ethic and the amount of reps he’s had with those shots. His defense is what I didn’t expect at this level though. I’ve now watched him guard guys from Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Monta Ellis, Kevin Durant, etc. And he’s not a lockdown defender by any means, but he has turned into a very capable defender and stays within the Spurs’ principles.

Funny story from college. Go.

Danny is a very neat person. I mean, like very clean and tidy. Our freshman year, he and Marcus Ginyard were in one room and Tyler Hansbrough and I were in the same suite. Our rooms were like night and day. Danny would make people take their shoes off before they came in, and always kept his room in order. I was in San Antonio recently for game seven against the Mavericks, and we stayed at his house afterward. Sure enough when we walked in, he asked me to take my shoes off, and I just started dying laughing. He’s still the same genuine guy that he was when we met as freshmen in 2005. That next day I had a flight at 6am, and needed to be at the airport by 5am. I told him I was going to get a cab to pick me up, and he refused and said, "You know I don’t sleep, I’ll be up and can take you."

Anything else?

His dad’s history is a big part of why Danny is the way he is. We were 18 and 19 years old as freshmen when the news broke about his dad being involved in some drug charges. He took that as well as anyone could. He also probably grew up faster because of it, having to be a positive role model for his younger brothers. His favorite tattoo is ASNF on his back (A Son Never Forgets). I met and hung out with his dad a bunch my first year in school and he was extremely nice and outgoing. He’d always send positive text messages, and was just easy to be around.

Did your tutor do all of this for you?

"No comment."

Jordan Rogers is a freelance writer living in the Raleigh area. He has written for WRAL, WCHL, IndyWeek, Chapelboro, The Cauldron / Medium and Raleigh & Company.

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