November 29, 1976
Through an eight-team, 14-year NBA career that spanned three decades and witnessed the birth of the draft lottery, the salary cap and Jordan Inc., Rickey Green watched the game he loves reinvent itself, and he did too. While his ability to leave opponents in the dust earned him acclaim as the league's fastest point guard, his ability to redefine his game enabled him to retire in 1992 as one of its oldest players, at age 37. "If I hadn't learned to play that position properly, I wouldn't have lasted as long as I did," says Green, now 44.
Green followed basketball's tenure track from the playgrounds of Chicago to the NBA. After leading Chicago's Hirsch High to the 1973 Illinois state championship, he ended up at Michigan and, as an explosive scorer and deft ball handler, he helped the Wolverines make the NCAA championship game in '76, his junior year. The following spring he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Barely a year later—after a lackluster rookie season with the Warriors and a brief stint with Dick Vitale's Detroit Pistons—Green found himself playing for the Hawaii/Billings Volcanos of the CBA, last refuge of a floor general with a shooter's mentality and a .380 field goal percentage. The league offered Green the chance to transform himself. He learned how to set up his teammates and pick his spots to shoot. When Utah Jazz coach and general manager Frank Layden gave him a second chance at the NBA five games into the 1980-81 CBA season, Green seized the opportunity. After a solid season as a backup for the Jazz, he earned a starting spot the following year, and during his six seasons as a first-stringer he averaged 12.8 points, 7.6 assists and 2.03 steals. In his lone All-Star appearance, in '84, he was named co-captain of the Western Conference team.
Green now runs a landscaping and snow removal service in the Chicago area, but he has sent his r�sum� to several NBA teams in hopes of landing a job as a scout or coach. In the meantime he's honing his coaching skills by working with his 15-year-old daughter, Kandyce, a 5'6" sophomore guard at Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights. Over the past summer he made sure she took at least 200 shots every day. Says Rickey, "She reminds me a little of myself when I was playing."