Spurs guard Danny Green discusses pet snakes, Gregg Popovich and his road to the NBA.
San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green is more than just a three-point marksman. The former North Carolina star has more interests than tight perimeter defense and back-breaking threes to halt your favorite team’s comeback attempt. Green is also a fan of snakes and Scandal.
Green spoke to SI.com to discuss these interests and more, including how he manages to look after his two pet snakes despite playing 41 road games every year.
Rohan Nadkarni: So I heard you’re into snakes? How did that happen?
Danny Green: I’ve always liked animals. When it was time for me to get a pet, it was the easiest thing for me to get that was maintainable. Snakes are very low maintenance. I just have to give them meat and water. I don’t have time for a dog or cat. Growing up, my uncle had a snake and I always thought they were really interesting. I’ve always liked pets, I’ve always liked animals.
RN: What pets do you have right now?
DG: I have two snakes.
RN: How does that work? Isn’t it a little hard flying around the country with snakes in your home?
DG: They stay in a cage. I have a custom made cage. One of the snakes is seven or eight feet, the other is three or four. They have locks on them. They have meat and water. You only need to feed them once a month, that’s why they’re pretty easy to maintain them.
RN: Let’s say I wanted to buy a pet snake today. How would I do it?
DG: [Laughs] I went to PetCo, man. Like anyone, I went to PetCo. I got my first snake from there. The second one I found from a breeder. It’s an albino snake. It’s hard to find exotic ones from PetCo, but you could find any other snake there. I got my first snake from the store, and she’s about seven or eight feet long now.
RN: How do people react to walking in your home and seeing two snakes? Are your teammates into it?
DG: I found people are very interested and excited about it whenever I show them pictures and stuff. About half the time they’re scared to death. I brought the smaller snake in a couple years ago for a feeding so some of the guys could watch him eat. It’s about 50/50, but you’d be surprised, more people are interested than you think.
RN: Wait, so you just brought a snake to the arena?
DG: Yeah, I brought one in so equipment guys, ball boys, whoever could watch the feeding at the practice facility.
RN: You had a bit of a crazy journey to the Spurs. You were cut from the Cavaliers, played in the D-League. What was the toughest part of the journey?
DG: Probably being cut a couple times. Being in the D-League and overseas. I wasn’t sure if I would have another shot in this league. You practice twice a day overseas, you’re not getting paid. But staying at home for a couple months after being cut was probably the toughest time. Watching my friends play, watching guys I knew play on TV.
I was home for the first time in a while. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out for me. I had a great support system, but that was my lowest point. Not from a self-esteem point, but from a confidence point. Confidence is the biggest thing. But my support system was really encouraging me to stay the course. I stayed confident in myself. My support system felt I belonged, and I felt that way as well. So I kept working, and luckily things panned out for me.
RN: Was there ever a time you thought basketball wouldn’t work out?
DG: I wasn’t reaching out or looking other places, but I was thinking at that point it was a possibility I couldn’t play in this league. I could play overseas or something like that. I knew I could compete in basketball, I just didn’t think it could have been in the NBA. Yeah, I’d say there was a point I thought I may not make it there. But timing is everything. I got the right timing and opportunity. Things fell into place. A lot of people don’t necessarily get the right timing or system to showcase their talents. Things worked out for me.
RN: How do you disconnect from the game in your free time?
DG: When I get home, I like to watch sports and keep updated. For the most part, I try to disconnect by watching other shows. I watch a lot of shows and movies. I get a lot of sleep. During the off-season I like to travel, go places and learn different cultures. But during the season it’s a lot of shows, movies and sleep. After basketball, I’d love to try coaching, commentating, being a TV analyst, maybe even acting, you never know.
RN: What’s the experience like playing for Gregg Popovich? How have the Spurs always been such a focused team for so many years?
DG: That’s what [Popovich] does. It’s from him. The focus and intensity comes from him. That’s his job, and he does a great job of it. Some games lack a little bit of it, some people are going to be rusty, not everybody’s going to be there. But for the most part, most of us are locked in and tuned in, it’s because our coaching staff is, it’s because Pop is. From the top on down, from our coaches to our video guys. everyone is making sure we’re locked in mentally. Because as tough it as it physically, it’s even tougher mentally to go through a season, to go through a 100 games of regular season and playoffs and stay locked in and focused.
RN: How do you keep a balance between basketball and everything else during the season?
DG: Sometimes it’s hard. But that’s why you have your down time. Your friends support you. Seeing your friends from college in different cities, not just playing or watching sports all day, watching different shows, talking about different topics in the world, all those things help you keep a balance. Coach Pop does a great job of talking to us about politics and a lot of other things going on in the world, outside of basketball. We’re stuck in basketball, but it really is just a game, but there are so many other things going on that are important. He keeps us updated. That keeps us pretty balanced out.