EAST LANSING – Draymond Green’s relationship with Tom Izzo spans over 15 years. And the former Michigan Star and four-time NBA World Champion is sure to have big things once again in store for MSU basketball.
It’s because of the atmosphere his former coach has.
“I think he’s as hungry as he’s been since I’ve been here,” Green said of Izu on Friday, during a press conference before Greene entered the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Big things aren’t new for Izzo, who has a national championship, eight Final Four entries and 10 regular season titles in the Big Ten in a career that has already earned him a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame. But the past two seasons haven’t lived up to his normal standards. MSU has ranked eighth and seventh in a row in the Big Ten in the past two seasons and hasn’t made it past its first weekend of the NCAA Championship since its last appearance in the Final Four in 2019.
Green said that even legends experience ebb and flow.
“I think we all go through those times when you might lose a little bit of that fire, along the way, on your way to greatness,” Green said. “Sometimes you can lose a little of that fire. But the real ones get it back. That’s the test.”
Green knows the feeling.
After five fantastic years from 2015 to 2019, during which Green’s Golden State won three NBA titles and reached the Finals throughout the five years, the next two seasons were forgotten. decimated by injuries, the Warriors went 15-50 in 2019-20 and 39-33 in 2020-21. But the team made a comeback last season, finishing with the NBA Championship for the fourth time in Greene’s 10 years as a professional.
“I lost some fires a couple of years ago, but the real fires got them back — and then won championships,” Green said with a smile. “Coach Izu has done that over and over again.”
more: Draymond Green: Learning Hard Work Propelled Him to Greatness—and to the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame
Related: Why Herb Adderley took so long to get into the MSU Sports Hall of Fame — and more induction party on Friday
Analytics: Couch: 5 quick games on Michigan State’s 2022-23 basketball schedule
Speaking with Ezo, as he does regularly, Green noted that his former coach had “found fire again”. If he hadn’t, Green said, he wouldn’t have signed a five-year contract extension last month.
“That’s not the case,” Green said with a laugh. “He’s not a guy chasing a check. A guy spends two dollars a year.” “He has a lot of money. He’s not someone chasing a check.”
What chases him is more victories. and tournaments.
“He’s a real winner,” Green said. “We’ve been taught to be winners.” “That’s what you learn at Michigan State: You learn how to win. And it’s all led by him.”
Green said that if words weren’t enough to prove Izu is determined to climb to the top of the college basketball mountain again, just take a look at the Spartans’ recent recruiting efforts. Their 2023 class is battling to be No. 1 in the country, highlighted by one of the best players in the country that is Indianapolis forward Xavier Booker.
“Here comes the championship,” Green said. “It’s on the way. I have no doubt in my mind.”
Whether that happens, it won’t change the way Green feels about Izzo. He noted that whenever he had a “little problem” with the Warriors, the first person they called him was Izu. They want to know what to do, and how best to deal with the green.
“I’m grateful to them that they cared so much to call him, but I’m even more grateful he still got the call, because he doesn’t have to,” Green said. “We all go into our minds like, ‘Oh, you owe me that. “He owes me nothing. He owes me nothing. But he keeps giving me. As long as I can, I will keep giving it to him.”
Green hopes the next thing Izu brings him — and Michigan State fans everywhere — is another National Championship banner.
“I am so excited to see him rediscover that passion and that grind, because real people always do,” he said.
Contact Ryan Black at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanABlack.