Tom Izzo: ‘Nobody better at winning and motivating the team’ than Warriors’ Draymond Green, new Michigan State Hall of Famer

Peninsula Premier Admin

Draymond Green wouldn’t shut up.

Usually, Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo didn’t mind his vocal leader speaking his mind to his teammates during timeout huddles and in the locker room. After all, Green’s insight was almost always spot on.

But during this particular timeout in a close game, Izzo’s patience was running thin.

“I listened for a little bit and I finally told him to be quiet,” Izzo recalled. “Of course, he didn’t.”

Green kept yapping, and Izzo had enough. So much so that he slammed his clipboard over his knee in an attempt to break it and regain his team’s attention. But the board didn’t break, much to the amusement of Green.

Even more upset now, Izzo tried to break it again but the board wouldn’t budge. It was only then that he realized his managers switched the cardboard clipboard out for a fiberglass one.

“When I did it the second time, Draymond gives me the, ‘Hey coach, you better hit the weight room,’” Izzo said. “Everybody started laughing, and it kind of broke the ice, and we went on and won big.”

Before Green went on to win four NBA titles as the heart and soul of the Warriors, the Saginaw, Michigan, native served that purpose for Michigan State, where he helped the Spartans to back-to-back Final Four appearances and a Sweet 16 berth over his four seasons.

Green is headlining a nine-person class that will be enshrined in the Michigan State Athletics’ Hall of Fame in a ceremony on campus Friday before being honored at the MSU-Akron football game Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

Coaching Green was like looking into a mirror for Izzo, one of the few in sports who can match the Warriors star’s emotional intensity.

“There’s times when Draymond is harder to deal with. Stubborn I guess is a good word and I was kind of stubborn in what I did,” Izzo said.

There were plenty of crazy moments during timeouts and halftime, like the one previously mentioned. Izzo also recalled Green rallying his teammates during halftime of a tight game against St. Louis in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

“That’s what I’ve always appreciated about him. I don’t know many guys that put winning ahead of the things he does,” Izzo said. “Things like him taking over a locker room made a difference. And he did it with some anger. So I just kind of sit back and say, ‘Don’t let me bother you, man… I might get paid to coach them, but right now, you’re on a roll.’

“I’ve had a couple guys, but there’s been nobody better at winning and motivating the team” than Draymond.

Izzo and Green had mutual respect for one another since their first meeting. Izzo told it to Green straight; he wanted him at Michigan State but couldn’t necessarily guarantee him playing time.

“He was a good player but he wasn’t everybody’s first choice, that’s for sure,” Izzo said, “which I think speaks volumes on what he’s done throughout his career. He just constantly got better and better and better.”

Green’s pursuit to reach his full potential was clear from the beginning. As his first season went on, Izzo found himself putting Green into games more and more down the stretch.

“In winning time, he was the guy you wanted in the game,” Izzo said.

Green finished as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and is second in career steals and seventh in blocks before the Warriors picked him in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft. The 2011-12 Big Ten Player of the Year’s three career triple-doubles are second to only Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

But Green means so much more to Michigan State than what he accomplished on the basketball court. As a senior, Green made it a point to go to an event for all 26 of the school’s sports.

“He was just one of the guys loved by everybody,” Izzo said. If teams — regardless of the sport — had a recruit coming on campus, they wanted Green to talk to them.

Since his playing days, Green has continued to give back to his alma mater. He donated $3.1 million, the largest gift by a student-athlete in the university’s history, for a new weight room in 2015. Most recently, he pledged $100,000 to honor his former teammate Adreian Payne, who was fatally shot in May.

“There’s more and better yet to come,” Izzo said.

Green learned of his Hall of Fame election shortly after capturing his fourth NBA title. He addressed the honor, which he called “absolutely insane” on an episode of his podcast in July.

Green thanked Izzo for “pushing me the way he did, for tapping into something that I didn’t even know could be tapped into about myself and for teaching me to work hard.

“I can’t thank him enough,” Green continued. “IT’s changed my life. And to be going into the Hall of Fame, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Or maybe it does.

Green is only the eighth Spartan to be selected for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

“Essentially, I’m a first-ballot Hall of Famers for you haters out there,” Green said, “and I’m thrilled about it.”

Izzo has a rule: “You can come back at me anytime you want, you just better have the goods. Don’t come back at me and you don’t have the goods.”

Izzo can always count on Green having the goods.

Contributed by local news sources

Next Post

Warriors 2022 draft picks Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins are making San Francisco home

[embedded content] Moving away from home for the first time can come with its challenges. But for Warriors rookies Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins, getting acclimated with their new home in the Bay Area has gone rather smoothly. San Francisco is the farthest from home Baldwin and Rollins have […]