|Intro||Retired American-Australian professional basketball player|
|Is||Athlete, Basketball player|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||3 September 1953, The Bronx, USA|
|Education||North Carolina State University|
|Sports Teams||Crispa Redmanizers, West Adelaide Bearcats, Adelaide 36ers|
Al Green (born 3 September 1953) is an American-Australian former professional basketball player. He played the majority of his career in the National Basketball League (NBL) from 1981 until his retirement in 1993. Green obtained Australian citizenship in 1984.
Born and raised in the South Bronx in what he calls “the real ghetto”, Green grew up playing basketball with future National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star player Bernard King. He attended Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine, where he was a third-team Parade All-American selection in 1974. He began his college basketball career at Arizona Western College. He then switched schools and went to North Carolina State University where he was a member of the NC State Wolfpack before again moving one last time to Louisiana State University to play for the LSU Tigers. During his college career for NC State and LSU Green would come up against the likes of future NBA Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson.
NBA and NFL draft
Green entered into the 1979 NBA Draft where he was a third round selection (64th overall) by the Phoenix Suns, though he would never play in the NBA. Green was also selected as pick #269 in the 1979 NFL Draft as a defensive back by the San Diego Chargers despite never having played organised football. The choice was made primarily on Green’s size, speed and jumping ability. Green and his agent spoke to the Chargers but despite the money he was being offered to change sports, he decided that he wanted to continue playing basketball and felt that there had to be somewhere in the world he could play.
After failing to gain a contract with Phoenix, Green began his career in 1981 in the Philippines with the Crispa Redmanizers. He then moved to Adelaide in South Australia to play for the West Adelaide Bearcats. The Bearcats played in the fledgeling National Basketball League, which was then heading into just its third season after starting in 1979. Green was an instant star in Australia and in his first season he helped the Bearcats to a third-place finish and was selected to his first All-NBL first-team.
The 1982 NBL season saw Green continue with the Bearcats, who made the NBL Grand Final against the Geelong Supercats and won their only NBL championship. Green had a supreme season in his second year in Australia and was voted the NBL’s Most Valuable Player in 1982 but was left out of the All-NBL first-team. During 1982, Green averaged 26.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He also shot a career best 58.7% from the floor. During the year, Green gained selection to the first ever NBL All-Star Game.
Green had established himself as the premier guard in the NBL and in 1984 set scoring records in the league that still stand. He scored a league record 71 points in a game against the Frankston Bears, shooting 26 from 44. He also scored 60 points and 59 points in other games through the 1984 season on his way to a league-leading 39.5 points per game in 21 games played despite the Bearcats finishing 11–13 for the year. His 39.5 points per game in 1984 is the second-highest average ever in an NBL season, beaten only by Andrew Gaze of the Melbourne Tigers.
After the 1984 NBL season, West Adelaide pulled out of the NBL. Green, with teammates Peter Ali, Ray Wood, and Mike McKay, joined the Adelaide 36ers in 1985 as Adelaide’s only team in the NBL. The 36ers, coached by the Bearcats 1984 coach Ken Cole, finished the regular season second on the ladder (but equal with minor premiers Brisbane Bullets), and after a record 151–103 win over Newcastle in the Semi-Final were into the NBL Grand Final, where they faced the Bullets. Green was held to 15 points and fouled out of the game midway through the last period as the Bullets, led by Green’s former 1982 championship teammate Leroy Loggins with 41 points, won easily 120–95. As he was fouled out, Green, who had always been an emotional player, reacted to a taunt from Bullets captain Larry Sengstock and threw the ball at his head, giving away a technical foul in the process.
On 21 April 1985 during the 36ers home game against the Melbourne Tigers, with his 8th of an eventual 22 points for the game Al Green became the first player in NBL history to have scored 3,000 career points.
At the start of the 1985 season, coach Ken Cole faced the choice of playing either Green or 6’2″ (188 cm) guard Darryl Pearce at point guard for the 36ers as the only other point guard in the team was veteran Ray Wood who was in the twilight of his career. Both Green and Pearce were more natural shooting guards, though Cole ultimately chose Green to run the floor, despite him being in the top two or three scorers in the league since his 1981 debut. Most of the reason for the choice was that it was felt Pearce was a better outside shooter while Green was a better passer of the ball. Although not completely happy with Cole’s decision, Green accepted the move and excelled in the role of point guard and for the first time led his team with 5.1 assists per game in 1985. His form in 1985 for Adelaide saw him win selection to his second All-NBL First Team.
Green and the 36ers continued to dominate the NBL in 1986, going 13–0 at home at the Apollo Stadium and finishing the season with a 24–2 record. The team, known as “The Invincibles”, again faced Brisbane, this time in a best of three Grand Final series. After splitting the first two games, Adelaide won their first and Al Green won his last NBL championship with a 113–91 win at home. Green averaged 15 points over the three-game series. His scoring prowess seen from 1981-1984 was slowed by Cole choosing him over Pearce as the 36ers point guard. Green successfully changed his game and led the team in assists per game rather than just in points.
Green continued to play for the 36ers until the end of the 1990 NBL season. In that time, the team never made another Grand Final but finished the 1987 and 1988 regular seasons in first place. Following the 1990 season, and after 164 games for the 36ers, Al Green was not resigned by the club and he found a new home with the Newcastle Falcons. He played three seasons with the Falcons (1991–1993) before retiring from the NBL at the age of 36 after 340 games and 7,520 points scored, finishing with career averages of 22.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
He was a professional runner who won Adelaide’s famous Bay Sheffied sprint race held over 120 metres in both 1983 and 1984. Starting off a 4.75 mark and running the equivalent of 6 yards (5 m) inside even time, Green won the 1983 Bay Sheffied in a time of 12.0 seconds and by a margin of approximately 3 metres. Earlier in the year Green had finished 2nd in Australia’s oldest and richest short distance running race, the Stawell Gift. Starting off a 2.0 mark in 1984, Green won his second Bay Sheffield in a time of 12.67 seconds, becoming the first man in 80 years to win back to back Bay Sheffield’s (H. Smith won in 1902 and 1903). He also became only the third man after G. Clarkson (1890–91) and Smith to win back to back.
After he became a naturalised Australian in 1984, Green announced his retirement from professional running with the intention of running for Australia at the 1986 Commonwealth Games as a 400m runner. Green’s decision to try for the Commonwealth Games saw him forced to give up his attempt at a historic third Bay Sheffield in a row. Ultimately, like he did when he was drafted into the NFL in 1979, Green again decided his true home was on the basketball court and he went on to help the 36ers to their 1986 NBL Championship instead of pursuing a place on the Australian Team for Edinburgh.
Al Green was inducted into the Bay Sheffield Hall of Fame in 2008.
After his stint with the Newcastle Falcons ended at the end of 1993, Green returned to Adelaide where he coached the South Adelaide Panthers senior men’s team in the Central Australian Basketball League, as well as the Westminster School open A’s and B’s. He remains a staunch supporter of the 36ers, and is also a regular coach at both the Adelaide 36ers and Tristar sports camps which are held every January for kids.
As of 2016, Green lives in Adelaide and works as a US basketball tour guide.