2009 Regional Champions

2009 Regional Champions. Marcus Ginyard (left), Danny Green, Mike Copeland, Bobby Frasor, and Tyler Hansbrough. (Photo courtesy of Marcus Ginyard)

Danny Green is one of the toughest Tar Heels of all time.

We all know the story of one-time Carolina reserve Danny Green, who got to start as a senior after all-around player Marcus Ginyard was hurt and missed most of the 2009 season. Green was a talented high school scoring star from Babylon, New York, with a jaded background that included a father in prison.

Green was known for his sideline dancing during Jump Around more than his on-court antics, and took advantage of the minutes he got off the bench. Durable Danny turned out to play in more games and victories than any Tar Heel to that point.

In 2009, he was the fourth scoring option after Hansbrough, Lawson and Ellington for the ’09 national champions, leading the team in free throw percentage and steals. That big three were all drafted in the first round and Green in the middle of the second. But he became the best pro of the four.

Green emerged as a 3-point specialist with the Spurs and won an NBA ring at San Antonio in 2014. He was a fixture down there and had to be disappointed about being moved to Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard trade. And he’s had his ups and downs during his first season with the Raptors, starting the most games of anyone on the team but losing minutes to the hot-shooting Fred VanFleet in the playoffs.

Green regained his touch Wednesday night as the Raptors beat the depleted Warriors to reclaim home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. Green played 27 minutes and took 10 shots, all 3-pointers. He canned six of them, most in critical stretches and added an important block as Toronto held off the Warriors and Steph Curry’s 47 points.

With Hansbrough now playing in China and Ellington and Lawson NBA journeymen, Green has become one of the best-known and most popular “second tier” players in the league. He has the same confidence to shoot the ball as he did in college, and he’s a better long-range bomber. He’s amazingly consistent with a career 10+ point scoring average and 40+ 3-point percentage.

Green still lives in Chapel Hill, and when you see him around town this summer, he’ll greet you with a big smile, NBA title style.