Toronto Raptor Danny Green is fluid. When you meet him, it’s hard not to notice how he moves—like a person who can see (and knows he can reach) his end destination. He plays basketball the same way; like there’s no other place the ball could go but where he wills and wants it.
After arriving in Toronto with Kawhi Leonard as part of a trade that shook up the home team roster, it didn’t take Green long to assert his skill and personality into the northern basketball culture, winning over fans first with his skill, and second with his newcomer commentary as he explored—and occasionally questioned—the culture and ways of his new Canadian home.
Green’s early questioning of Canadiana, starting with bagged milk (not a thing in the U.S.), was genuinely curious and playful. In a December episode of Yahoo Sports Canada’s In The Green Room, Green called out the dairy sector directly, seeking out an explanation for the milk bags and the unique design of their specialized containers.
“It needs to change. I don’t know who we need to talk to, but that needs to change.”
Well, Ontario’s dairy farmers were listening, and were delighted when Green accepted the offer to work with their Recharge With Milk program as a professional ambassador and role model to young Ontario athletes.
While all of this makes for a great story, it wasn’t calling out bagged milk and other strange Canadian behaviours that made Danny Green a perfect role model. It was actually his personal story. Early in his basketball career, Danny suffered a series of disappointments during the transition from college basketball to pro. Like so many athletes dreaming of playing in the NBA, Danny had to face some tough choices.
Instead of walking away, Danny put the work in and effectively rebuilt his game from the ground up to where he his now—one of the top shooters and among the top five plus-minus players in the NBA this season, and a true Toronto fan favourite.
Danny’s ease and confidence come from hard work and perseverance, qualities all great athletes—and great people—have in common. After the bad days, setbacks and self-doubt, there’s the grace of self-awareness and pride in knowing you got there without shortcuts or cheat codes. It was all you.
Danny is not a total newcomer to Canada, having ventured to Muskoka to Olympia Sports Camp every summer for a decade to coach young basketball players and share some good advice.
The biggest advice I can give to any young kid is to work really hard and be persistent. Continue to find information, practice the right way—you know, not all practice is good practice.
One of the most important things that I found out growing up is to use your resources and be persistent, in whatever it is that you do, whether you’re going to be a garbageman, a doctor, a lawyer or a basketball player. Work really hard at it and find information, practice the right habits and continue to be persistent.