By Corie Muhammad
As a child growing up watching the different national news shows and sports programs, I would often wondered why so much of the shows content was about New York City. I mean if I watched the “Nightly News” with Dan Rather, or “60 Minutes” with the late great Ed Bradley, it always had a “New York story” included. When I would turn on a sports channel and watch “Big Monday” college basketball, the sports commentators would reference New York City and its basketball tradition or interview a Big East player and mention that he is from NYC. This common occurrence made me ponder “How did New York City receive so much attention in the media world?” Well, after moving to New York City, my question was finally answered. New York City is home to most of the major Audio-Visual and print media outlets. Thus, when it comes time to do a story on an urban High School with high standardized test scores, or cover a High School basketball rivalry it is easier for a reporter to just catch the UP Town A train to Harlem or take a cab ride to Coney Island to do the story. As a result the entire nation knows about the Lincoln VS Grady rivalry, or Boys and Girls High School against Carnarsie game. Where as, only the people in Michigan know about the Detroit Persian Verse Cooley or Everett Verse Sexton dual. Why is this? Because one set of schools is located in New York City, home of the media industry and the other set of schools are located in Michigan, home of the auto industry. Therefore, I have made it my personal crusade to expose the many NBA players both past and present that grew up playing basketball in the GREAT LAKE STATE. I now introduce to you Philadelphia 76er Will Green.
Slam; So Will Green where are you from?
Will Green: I am from Detroit, Michigan.
Slam: What were some of the adjustments that you had to make transitioning from college to the NBA:
Will Green: The biggest adjustment that I had to make was getting used to the speed of the game in the NBA. Also, being able to tolerate all of the games, and getting used to the grind of a long season. In college, the maximum number of games in a season is about 30, whereas in the NBA you play 80 plus regular season games, sometimes you play 4 of those games in 5 nights. Not including the practices, so that is a big adjustment. Also, in college you really undervalue the importance of rest. But in the league, getting enough proper rest is absolutely essential.
Slam: What was the biggest misconception you had about the NBA before playing in it?
Will Green: A major misconception about the NBA pertains to defense, I thought guys did not play defense. I thought that it would be easy to score and get to the basket.
Slam: Well yeah, that’s what the sports casters and media persons always say.
Will Green: Exactly, I actually thought that it would be easy to score. But when I got here, I realized that all the guys play solid defense. I also learned the EVERYBODY in this league can play. From the first guy to the fifteenth man, everyone can play.
Slam: With us both being from Michigan, you from Detroit and me from Lansing, I would like to talk about why do you think Michigan has produced so many NBA players both past and present? What is it about Michigan basketball?
Will Green: Well I just think it starts with the competition of the High Schools and AAU teams throughout the state that creates this type of productivity. Guys play year around so you get the opportunity to always play against some of the best players. Also, a lot of pro players and college players comeback all the time to play. So, when I was coming up in Detroit, I was playing in the summer time against Jalen Rose, Voshon Leonard, Howard Eisley and others. Because so many of these players have strong ties to the state of Michigan they come back in the summer and play. This gives a young player ultimate confidence and increases his skill level when he is able to compete against NBA and other pros as a teenager.
Slam: What would be a good description of a ball player from Michigan, compared to ball players from other parts of the country?
Will Green: I will break it down like this. You have the East coast, West coast, South, and the Midwest. Guys from Michigan are taught basketball wise to be able to do a lot of things. Most guys are solid in all areas. We are taught to be able to play defense, score, pass and rebound. In Michigan, most of the players are just solid in the basics. You don’t have a lot of flashy players. Take Jalen Rose for instance, he is a guy that is good and solid at a lot of different things. He is 6 foot 8 yet he can play the point, shooting guard, small forward or whatever. On the East coast, they are more pat the rock, get in the lane and dish the rock. Down south you find great athletes, on the West coast they have an unorthodox game, yet great scorers. But in Michigan you are taught to do everything.
Slam: Yeah, I agree. Most cats from Michigan are not flashy but just solid in all areas of the game.
Slam: When I am talking to young ball players, I always tell them that talent is not enough to succeed in basketball at the highest level. Tell me why talent is not enough to play in the NBA?
Will Green: Because in the NBA everybody is talented. If you were to get a room full of NBA players together the talent would all match up evenly. So, what is going to separate you from the rest of the guys, if you all have talent? This is true for any pro sport, once you get to a certain level everyone can run, jump, everyone has game but what makes you stand out? That is when your character comes into play, your attitude. Being a good team mate, are you coach able? Plus you have to be a hard worker. Not everyone that has talent is a hard worker. So that person that has talent but no hard work is at a disadvantage when he matches up against a guy that has equal talent, plus is a hard worker. So when you have all of these things, then you can separate yourself from just being talented.
Slam; Man Will, you just dropped a jewel for all of our readers both young and old, regardless of sports or life.
Will Green: It’s for real though.
Slam: If you could change one thing in the NBA, be it socially, policy, rules, or anything, what would it be?
Will Green: I think it would be the physicality of the league in terms of play. I mean, it is somewhat physical now, but I like how it was back in the 80’s when you had the “Bad Boys” and “Show Time”. Then you could hand check, and foul a guy hard and clean and not get suspended 10 games. Where as now, it is so hard, things are set up where you really have to play team defense. That is a good thing, but I would like to see it more physical.
Slam: Thank you
Will Green: No problem, and let it be known, that I do read the SLAM magazine.