Raptors Guard Danny Green Dishes on Podcasting, PUMA Hoops and NBA All-Star Weekend

CHARLOTTE -- With the NBA All-Star Game taking over the city of Charlotte, Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green brought his Inside The Green Room podcast to Hoppin’ taproom, a few short minutes away from the center of the weekend’s action at the Spectrum Center.

Danny and his co-host, Harrison Sanford, invited Dallas Mavericks assistant coach and dribbling legend God Shammgod and entertainment personality Michael Rapaport to be special guests on the newest episode of their show in front of a live audience.

As the crowd of North Carolina Tar Heels, past and present, enjoyed their brews, Danny and his friends on the microphone sat center stage to shoot the breeze. Beyond their own conversations with each other, the foursome fielded questions from more than a hundred fans scattered between the main floor and the upstairs of the bar.

After taking pictures during a personal meet-and-greet session, Danny chatted with CloseUp360 about his move into media, his opportunity to call the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, being back near his alma mater, his partnership with Puma and more.

(The interview has been edited for clarity and length.)

Danny Green Michael Rapaport God Shammgod Harrison Sanford

From left: Harrison Sanford, Danny Green and God Shammgod take a selfie with Michael Rapaport. (Courtesy of PUMA Basketball)

CloseUp360: You're a natural at this broadcasting thing, man.

Danny Green: I'm okay, I'm okay.

CU360: What got you into it?

DG: It was always something that kinda my dad talked me into doing. It's something that he thought I'd be good at. He told me to go to school for it. I went to school for it—communications major—so that helped. But obviously I want to stick around the game. It's something to stick around the game. Everything around basketball—obviously coaching was one, training—was in college, so we'd make connections and communicate. That helped a lot, too.

My teammates, a big part of it. I had some characters that I lived with and some guys that were just big social [people]—my dad's a social guy, too—but Marcus Ginyard's probably the mayor of Chapel Hill when we were there and now. Knows everybody, speaks to everybody, helps everybody. Bobby Frasor. Tyler [Hansbrough] wasn't so much, but Bobby, all those guys that I came in with, being in classes of mine were great with talking to people and networking. So I just did that throughout, and it just helped me become better at it and more natural. And we did so much media there, helped as well.

My idols, some of the guys I looked up to when I was going school, were the reasons why I also jumped in: Stuart Scott, Kenny Smith. So there's plenty of guys that I can point out. Those are some of the guys that I looked up to even outside of basketball that I wanted to be like.

CU360: Have you talked to Richard Jefferson, your former teammate with the San Antonio Spurs, about his transition into media?

DG: I haven't seen him in awhile. RJ's my guy, man. I'd seen him here and there since the trade when he was playing, but since he's not playing anymore, I haven't seen him much. But he's a great dude, man—learned a lot from him in San Antonio. Throughout the years, he's always been a great supporter.

CU360: He's a character.

DG: He is a character, by all means with every definition, every word, every way, shape or form of character. He's so fun to be around, which makes him great at what he does. He's great at the pod, he's great at so many stories. He's a professional, but a class-act character and has great charisma with the camera and everything, so it's fun to watch him. He's entertaining to listen to him talk and tell his stories.

CU360: How did the opportunity come up for you to call the Rising Stars game?

DG: Oh, I gotta give that off to Roc Nation, man. They know it's something I wanted to do, and they obviously reached out and looked at different avenues, and they said this might be cool to do, so they found the opportunity and they said, "Hey, would you like to do it?" And I said, "Yeah, hell yeah, why not?"

CU360: What do you think is going to happen? How do you think you're going to do?

DG: I'm a little nervous about it, but I hope I do okay—hopefully smile, look good, be on camera. I'ma hype my guys up. OG Anunoby, still don't pronounce it greatly now. OG, my guy Ogugua. I can pronounce his first name right. But I'ma hype him up and all the other guys that I've played with. In Slovenia, Luka Doncic, he was there. When I played in Slovenia, he was a young kid, said he'd seen me play before.

So I'ma hype all the guys that I know pretty well up—talk some stuff, learn something a little about them. Have some notes, hopefully write some stuff down, do some homework, and research and be a little prepared.

CU360: I was going to ask: Now, being at Hoppin’ bar for the podcast, what was your favorite part about your exchanges with the fans?

DG: Just to see how many Tar Heels are still supporting. I graduated 10 years ago. To still see them supporting me and being here and cheer me on, ask questions, still be fans of me as a Carolina Tar Heel—not even a Raptor, but a Tar Heel fan of me 10 years later—is great.

They asked questions about my stories with Roy [Williams] and my championship years, and know about my life now and then in San Antonio. It's real personal. It's not a big crowd. It's a very small crowd, very efficient, got to take pictures and shake some hands and meet some people, which made it more intimate. I like that. I think a lot of people like to have more intimate conversations.

CU360: Did it feel like you came back to school a little bit?

DG: A little bit. We're still far away. But a little bit, yes. You feel the light blue everywhere and you're, like, "Okay." Once I walked in, I was, like, "Alright, this is definitely a Chapel Hill bar kinda feel," and had the Carolina blue. I'm, like, "Yeah, this is nice." And I realized that I'm in Charlotte. It's still a little further away. You see the class differences and the ages, and stuff like that.

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Danny, God and Michael share a laugh while recording an episode of the Inside The Green Room podcast in Charlotte. (Courtesy of PUMA Basketball)

CU360: So you've got the podcast and now you're repping PUMA obviously.

DG: Yes sir, all day.

CU360: What drew you to them, and how are you and the other cast of guys bringing the brand up?

DG: I mean, PUMA's always been a great lifestyle company. They've always been great with doing clothing and gear. The biggest reservation I had was the basketball shoe, whether it was gonna be good enough to perform in. But it came about. Roc Nation always had a great relationship with them. Obviously Jay-Z, [Roc Nation president Michael] Yormark has done a great job. They brought it to me, luckily gave me the opportunity to meet with them, because I'm not one of the top guys in the league with a big name. You don't say, "Danny Green? Oh, we need to sign that guy!"

But they gave me the opportunity to meet with them and they liked what they saw. They liked me as a person. They started signing guys with good characteristics. And luckily, it's worked out great for me, and for them hopefully. They said they've been happy. I've been happy. They've done more than enough for me and treated me well, 10 times over than what I expected, especially coming here [to Charlotte].

They let me use the plane to fly here, which they talk about, but you never really think you'll get the chance to jump on the plane and do it. "Oh shit, the plane, really? Okay, I get to get on the plane. Cool!" You try to play it cool, but it's exciting. It's fun stuff. Friends here. It's been amazing, man. And it's all thanks to Roc Nation. Jay, Michael Yormark, they gave me the opportunity, and gave me a chance to walk in and meet those guys in the door and make an impression to where, "We like this kid, we like what he's doing. Let's give him a shot."

CU360: What are you guys hoping to do with this brand? Is it kind of a revival in a way?

DG: I think that's what their hope is. For me, it's to just help them [with] whatever it is they want to do, the way they help me. Put them on front street, just back them as much as I possibly can. Show them how great they've been to me and show the world it's one of the better brands out there. There's a reason why they were on top before. They probably should be on top again.

And they're coming back with this lifestyle stuff. They have good style, good fashion, colors. A lot of the kids are into it. So I could see them making a big jump within the near future. But for me, I'm happy to be a part of the team and I just want to show my appreciation by making them a priority in everything that I do, and showing the world how great they are.

CU360: For you, how important is everything off the court, especially when it comes to branding and preparing yourself for life after basketball?

DG: I mean, if I was in San Antonio, this question would be answered very differently than it is now. Obviously, the times have changed. Social media wasn't big there. We weren't encouraged to do it. Branding was not...obviously. Timmy [Duncan] was very even-keeled, even though he has a great personality. Kawhi was very even-keeled. Everybody there just didn't do it.

Now, it's way different. Branding is big, especially for a guy like myself who you don't expect to make hundreds of millions of dollars in this league. If I do make [that], awesome, but as a role player, you're gonna have to work after this, so your brand is everything. If you have a good brand then it makes it easier to find a job for the middle-class players in the league, and for the lower-class players.

So you want to let people in to know what kind of person you are, your characteristics, what you like and hobbies, and keep the fans engaged and stay relevant as much as you can. So that when you are done playing, it's easier to find a job or make something of yourself and just start your own business—wherever it may be after basketball. Because fans are interested to see, as an NBA player, how you interacted with them.

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Danny and God both signed with PUMA Basketball last year. (Courtesy of PUMA Basketball)

CU360: Are you hoping that career is going to be broadcasting?

DG: Yeah, I think that's one of the routes. I think it's the easier route for me besides coaching. I don't want to coach. But hopefully, I have a couple good options, and broadcasting hopefully is one of them. Hopefully when I'm done, I have many options of what I want to do, and just pick and choose.

CU360: In what field of broadcasting? Analyst? Play-by-play guy? What are you looking at here?

DG: I don't think I'm a play-by-play, I'm not that good at that. Analyst, I could do analyst—stuff like that. But play-by-play is tough. I'll take up a couple more classes and see how I do, but I wasn't good at it when I did it, so I have to go back and get it tuned up a little bit.

CU360: Is that cliche for a player to be an analyst after basketball? I feel like there's a lot of people that do that nowadays.

DG: Yeah, yeah. I mean, they're starting to find out what's easier and it's a bit little more stable than coaching. And it's staying around the game and being still hands-on, and still traveling and doing the same thing as player, and being close up watching the games, getting front-row seats or whatever it may be. But it's very much to the closest thing to being in the game without being in the game.

CU360: What's behind the magic of All-Star Weekend to you?

DG: Just the fact that there's so many celebrities—stars, All-Stars, basketball players—in one city at one time for very few events, so you know that there's parties everywhere. And like Michael Rapaport was saying, you're bound to bump into any celebrity at your local coffee shop. And fans—regular, normal people—love that. So it's a bucket-list thing for most people in the world.

I know my dad's, like, "I never been to All-Star. I wanna go." I'm, like, "Alright, so go." It's not that great to me. It's hyped up and I like being around it, but once you've done it once, it's, like, "Okay." But for most people in the world, they don't get the chance to ever meet these people or see these people or interact with them or bump into them, and to watch them in their atmosphere perform. So I think for the average person, it's an exciting time and that's why a lot of people save up for it, and it's a bucket-list thing for them to do.


Spencer Davies is a veteran NBA writer based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter.