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Posted: Friday April 3, 2009 7:14PM; Updated: Friday April 3, 2009 7:14PM
Joe Lemire Joe Lemire >
AT THE TOURNEY

Doing the little things, UNC's Green makes his dad, teammates proud (cont.)

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The advice has never stopped, but for 22 months, it was restricted and remote.

On March 31, 2006, Danny Green Sr. was arrested on conspiracy charges as part of a drug bust that reportedly yielded more than 400 pounds of cocaine and $5 million in cash. Though Danny Sr. maintained his innocence, he was one of 14 co-defendants, so a trial date was a long time in the making. He eventually took a plea deal on a reduced charge, a Class B felony that carried a 1-3 year sentence, including time served, and he was released on Jan. 28, 2008.

While incarcerated at the Riverhead Correctional Facility on Long Island, Danny Sr. could not receive calls but could dial out to Danny with some regularity, often twice per week and usually the day after UNC played. Most Carolina games are on basic cable TV, so he still saw his son play and would phone with advice. He joked that Danny would see his number calling and say, "Aw man, it's dad."

But, really, Danny treasured those calls. He has referred to his father as his "best friend," and the separation became more difficult when Danny Sr. was transferred to a second facility in Ogdensburg, where phone calls were more difficult. The two wrote letters instead. Family has always been important to Danny, who has the names of his brothers tattooed on the inside of his bicep and writes ASNF on his sneakers: "A Son Never Forgets." Says Rashad, "That's all we really had [growing up] -- me, him and our father."

As often as he could, Danny shuttled between Chapel Hill and the family home on Long Island, where his younger brothers were being taken care of by his uncle, grandmother and father's fiancée, Sharima. Devonte, a preteen, was at an impressionable age, so Danny would make sure he was neatly dressed and had proper hygiene. "Danny was very good about helping with his brothers," his father says.

Slowly the stress caught up to Danny during his sophomore year. Along with his father's legal troubles came difficulties with the family finances and the fear they may lose their house, so Danny saved whatever money he could from his scholarship to send home. He had just broken up with a college girlfriend and his playing time had been reduced, owing to a logjam among wing players. Green sought refuge in the Dean Dome for solitary shootarounds late at night.

After his release from prison, Danny Sr. is back in sports, co-coaching Devonte's 12-year-old AAU team, the New York Gauchos, and is also working for noted trainer Jerry Powell at Basketball Results on Long Island. The conditions of his parole prevent him from leaving New York without special permission, so he was unable to attend last year's NCAA tournament, but this spring he attended Danny's Senior Night and every postseason game.

Danny downplayed the importance of his father attending his games. "It makes it a lot more fun, of course, and a lot more exciting," he said before the Final Four, "but for the most part, I'm just trying to stay focused on the game."

******
The Danny Green seen by the public is exuberant and quotable. Carolina fans fondly remember his fast-break dunk over Duke's Greg Paulus at Cameron Indoor Stadium in March 2008, in which the hapless 6-3 Paulus' eyes were level with Green's waist, and he's just as famous for his courtside jigs during player introductions at the Dean Dome. "That's the way he's on the court," says Hansbrough, suggesting there's another side to the senior.

Rashad, just 10 ½ months younger than Danny, says his brother was responsible and conservative in high school, and Danny Sr. says his eldest son has always been quiet and reserved. "I don't know where the heck he gets that [dancing] from," says Danny Sr. "I was shocked that he had the courage to go do that." Of course, Danny isn't just a basketball player and a sleeper anymore, either. Senior guard Bobby Frasor says Danny is a "creature of the night. He could be up at any time, and he'll be watching TV, on his computer -- who knows what he's doing."

Speaking of creatures: late in his junior year Danny, wanting a low maintenance pet, bought a baby boa constrictor, a male that he named Jake. But it had a seizure and died on the first day. Green returned to the pet store and got a female, Jade, who has grown to almost five feet now and could reach 10 feet in adulthood. "She's a sweetheart," Danny says. "I spoil her." Jade usually stays in her tank but has been known to slither around the living room as the guys play video games. "I held it one day," says Frasor, "and I thought it was cool until its head perked up and stared at me in the face."

Though Danny Sr. is quick to note -- in an unsolicited email, of course -- that his son is the winningest player in UNC history and the only ACC player to ever amass 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 three-pointers and 150 steals, the father is most excited for one more trip to Chapel Hill, long after the games are over. Danny Sr. plans to return in May and see his son graduate with a degree in communications. So writes the father, "dan accomplished so much @ unc and I'm so proud of him."

 
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