Former MSU star and current NBA All-Star Draymond Green had his No. 23 retired Tuesday at the Breslin Center. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — It wasn’t until Draymond Green walked off the court for the final time as a senior at Michigan State that he ever thought about someday watching his number raised to the rafters.
That was in 2012 when Green, now a three-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, was busy capping a four-year career with the Spartans that included three Big Ten championships and two Final Four appearances.
“Honestly, the first time I ever thought that was when I left here,” Green said Tuesday night at Breslin Center. “I thought, ‘I had a pretty good career, maybe I'll go up there one day. I hope my jersey goes up there.’ But as a player, there’s so many other things to think about. Like, there are great players at Michigan State that never made it to the rafters.
"It’s not like every day I was saying my number is gonna be up there like them. I just want to be a great player at Michigan State but when I finished I said, ‘Oh, maybe my number will go up there.’ ”
Green was honored during a halftime ceremony Tuesday night as No. 11 Michigan State hosted No. 10 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
His No. 23 is the ninth number to be retired at Michigan State and Green is the 10th player — the No. 24 is shared by Johnny Green and Shawn Respert.
“First of all, I love this place,” Green said. “This place is a huge reason, a huge part of where I am today.”
Green is one of just four players in Michigan State history to earn National Player of the Year honors, having been selected by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 2012. A consensus first-team All-American, he also earned Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player accolades in 2012. In addition to first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2012, he was a second-team honoree in 2011 and 2010, while also being named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in 2010. As a senior in 2012, he also earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
He is Michigan State's all-time leading rebounder, collecting 1,096 from 2008-09 to 2011-12. He also ranks second in career steals (180), sixth in career blocks (117) and 18th in career scoring with 1,517 points. He finished his career just 27 assists short of MSU's career Top 10. He is one of just four Spartans to record a triple-double, posting three, including two in NCAA Tournament competition.
“It’s an amazing honor to be going up in the rafters with guys who I could only ever dream of meeting, let alone have my jersey and my name up there in a place that I love dearly,” Green said. “It really means a lot. You know, coming here as an 18-year-old kid I remember a lot of people telling me I was stupid, I've never played here, coach is gonna tear me apart, and I'm not the type of player that can play at Michigan State and all those things.
“So for this day to be happening, it really, truly means a lot.”
Green was joined by Golden State teammate Klay Thompson at Breslin on Tuesday as well as Warriors coach Steve Kerr.