Through an eight-team, 14-year NBA career that spanned three
decades and witnessed the birth of the draft lottery, the salary
cap and Jordan Inc., Rickey Green watched the game he loves
reinvent itself, and he did too. While his ability to leave
opponents in the dust earned him acclaim as the league's fastest
point guard, his ability to redefine his game enabled him to
retire in 1992 as one of its oldest players, at age 37. "If I
hadn't learned to play that position properly, I wouldn't have
lasted as long as I did," says Green, now 44.
Green followed basketball's tenure track from the playgrounds of
Chicago to the NBA. After leading Chicago's Hirsch High to the
1973 Illinois state championship, he ended up at Michigan and,
as an explosive scorer and deft ball handler, he helped the
Wolverines make the NCAA championship game in '76, his junior
year. The following spring he was drafted by the Golden State
Warriors in the first round.
Barely a year later--after a lackluster rookie season with the
Warriors and a brief stint with Dick Vitale's Detroit
Pistons--Green found himself playing for the Hawaii/Billings
Volcanos of the CBA, last refuge of a floor general with a
shooter's mentality and a .380 field goal percentage. The league
offered Green the chance to transform himself. He learned how to
set up his teammates and pick his spots to shoot. When Utah Jazz
coach and general manager Frank Layden gave him a second chance
at the NBA five games into the 1980-81 CBA season, Green seized
the opportunity. After a solid season as a backup for the Jazz,
he earned a starting spot the following year, and during his six
seasons as a first-stringer he averaged 12.8 points, 7.6 assists
and 2.03 steals. In his lone All-Star appearance, in '84, he was
named co-captain of the Western Conference team.
Green now runs a landscaping and snow removal service in the
Chicago area, but he has sent his resume to several NBA teams in
hopes of landing a job as a scout or coach. In the meantime he's
honing his coaching skills by working with his 15-year-old
daughter, Kandyce, a 5'6" sophomore guard at Marian Catholic in
Chicago Heights. Over the past summer he made sure she took at
least 200 shots every day. Says Rickey, "She reminds me a little
of myself when I was playing."
November 23, 1998
His ability to leave foes in the dust earned him acclaim as the
NBA's fastest point guard.