Sports are often used as a tool to not only teach athletic skills, but life skills as well; that is what San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green set out to do with his statewide basketball clinic tour, which makes its final stop in El Paso this weekend.
Green, who’s been coached by North Carolina’s Roy Williams and the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, is using the knowledge he’s gained over the years and sharing it in his youth clinics.
“They taught me so much about life besides basketball, being on time, being early, being organized and how to become a man,” Green said. “Just the little things that I learned from coach Williams and Pop I instill and try to teach these kids because it’s not always about basketball, it’s about life and doing the right things. I believe in karma strongly and if you do the right things, good things will come your way.”
His influence comes from beyond that of his coaches, but also his teammates – especially one Tim Duncan – who announced his retirement after 19 seasons with the Spurs on July 11.
Duncan and Green were teammates from 2010 to 2016, winning an NBA championship in the 2013-14 season.
“I’ll remember his as a winner, as a great, he was very fundamental. He made the game look easy,” Green said. “He won every single year, he brought an organization to the top and kept it at the top for 19 plus years. Not many people in any other sport have done that, he’ll definitely be remembered as a legendary player and person, very humble.”
Green said the lasting impact Duncan left on him is how he learned to be a professional.
Those experiences have led Green to organize camps like these, giving back to communities is something he said he learned at a young age.
“Our intentions with these camps is to teach these kids the fundamentals of basketball, not just about basketball, but about life,” Green said. “Leadership skills and how to do things the right way…we’re going to teach them that work ethic is everything and how hard your work is going to depend on how successful you’ll be. There’s no secret to it.”
Parents were just as excited as the kids attending the clinic, as hundreds lined up to make their way into the Don Haskins Recreational Center, most in their best Spurs apparel.
“We heard about this through the news that he was coming, I think back in May,” El Paso resident, Crystal Rivera said. “We signed (oldest son) him up right away, we were so excited. We thought it was amazing, it’s a great opportunity, we don’t have a lot of these experiences here in El Paso, it’s amazing for the kids to come out and participate. They were so excited, even our little one who’s not old enough, wished he could join the camp.”
That excitement kids show is something Green relishes, as he said it’s part and parcel of being an NBA player.
“It’s part of the job, as role models we’re suppose to inspire them, give them hope and let them know you’ll guide them, help guide them,” Green said. “Obviously a lot of these kids grow up in different areas and sometimes they don’t listen to their parents, it’s our job to reiterate that and inspire them to do great things because they’re capable of doing. Try to give them ways to utilize the resource they do have to be successful.”
Green’s clinic has a cost of $199 per attendee and, even with the fee, parents were pleased to have their kids learn from a professional and become active.
“It’s for my kids, I thought it was a lot, but this is the first time I sign up my kids for a camp,” Elizabeth Grajeda, who had two children attending said. “I don’t think it was too bad considering the activity that they’re getting. They were excited because they like the Spurs…I think the autograph was cool too.”
This is the first time Green hosts his clinic in the Borderland; as the tour that started in Austin, made its way to Laredo and Corpus Christi before finishing in El Paso. It concludes tomorrow with two more sessions from 9 a.m. to noon and at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“I’ve never done it before, a lot of people requested it, it’s a big city they give a lot of exposure to us,” Green said. “They’re fanatical about the Spurs, they came out and it’s amazing, the turnout we had today was amazing. The best one yet.”
Green will also be throwing the first pitch at the El Paso Chihuahuas game tomorrow, something he’s never done.
“I’ve just seen a couple of pitches go wrong so I’m going to have to get a couple of warm-ups in before I get out there,” Green said. “I’ve thrown a baseball before, but not like that, it shouldn’t be too hard.”