By Dan Wiederer with foreword by Bobby Frasor
“Blue Streak” excerpt: Testing the waters
Things only grew more tense in early May when Danny Green Sr. went on the record with sharp words about his son's motivation.
"I really need to make this clear," he said. "Danny Green is not just testing the waters. Everybody's put that out there, that he's just testing the waters. Well he's not. If Danny is going to get drafted and we think he's going to be able to get a contract, he is going to the NBA. No questions asked. Let's make that clear."
Again, Williams was pissed. Not only did he disagree with Green Sr.'s big picture assessment, but now the father of a player was delivering outspoken opinions to the media.
(To be published in early 2010)
Danny Green himself was also a little irked with his dad for speaking publicly and definitively on his behalf. But he did agree with him about one thing: testing the NBA waters was absolutely a no-lose situation.
Danny Green Sr. had cemented his stance. And in truth, he offered a fairly compelling salespitch for why NBA teams should be interested in his son.
After three college seasons, Green Sr. pointed out, Danny already ranked 10th all-time at UNC history with 103 blocked shots. As a 6-foot-6 wing.
The nine players above Green on that list, including Tar Heel greats like Brendan Haywood, Sam Perkins, Eric Montross and Rasheed Wallace, were all taller than 6-9.
Furthermore, for much of the previous winter Green had been widely touted as the country's top sixth man. And just three years earlier, another Tar Heel sixth man, Marvin Williams, had made a successful early leap to the next level and was now making more than $4 million per season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Green Sr. also wanted the critics to remember his son's hunger for big moments. He pointed out how on a pressure-packed March night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Green stole the show against rival Duke.
A defeat and Carolina would have lost the ACC regular season title and its grip on a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament. Instead, Green exploded for 18 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and an iconic dunk over Duke's Greg Paulus in a 76-68 Tar Heels win."Danny played the best game of his life," Green Sr. said. "He's been doing that forever. Every time there is something huge at stake, he's always stepped up. I don't expect this to be any different."
It all sounded very convincing. But in the big picture, Green Sr. was out on an island with his unwavering confidence.
On mock drafts all across the Internet, Danny Green's name was nowhere to be found.
NBA front office personnel and scouts were paying little attention. The mention of Green's name simply made them shrug as if they'd just been asked to evaluate the oatmeal at the local IHOP.
"With a player like him, it's pretty simple. Consistency," said one NBA scout. "He didn't show great consistency this year. Bottom line. ... What every NBA team wants to see is a level of consistency. They want to feel like when the coach puts you in, they can count on getting the same thing every night. Danny Green hasn't come close to proving that yet.
"I understand what he's doing. He's playing the process to his advantage right now. But I also feel like he'd be making a big mistake if he didn't pull out and head back to school."
Even Jerry Powell, a family friend of the Greens and a renowned basketball trainer in New York, had big-time doubts.
He had been working closely with Green and loved his attitude and energy and overall versatility. But ...
"Look," Powell said, "guys in the NBA are freaks. There are no 'tweeners. You better have a solidified position. You better understand how to read screens and how to break every possession down. To make it in the NBA, you have to be undeniable. Being good is no good anymore. You have to be two notches better than great."
With a return to Carolina, Green would have a senior season in which he would be able to play a big role alongside the reigning National Player of the Year on a team that would again be a popular pick to reach the Final Four.
Waiting for him at the next level was a daily barrage of anxious uncertainty.
"You can't allow ego to overrun what's realistic," Powell said. "Danny Green is going to be in the NBA some day. I just don't see what the rush is. Danny's just now starting to get hot. You know how it is when water starts to boil? Danny's like a boiling pot of water and you don't want to take that off the stove too fast."
Added one NBA Eastern Conference director of scouting: "A lot of these kids don't get it. Be an impact player at your level first. Grow comfortable with that and try to experience a heightened level of success on a consistent basis before you try to take this step. It's a gigantic step."
And yet it was a gigantic step Green was still interested in taking.