On the court, Danny Green wears a jersey with his hero’s last name written across his back. But under the jersey is where the real tribute lies.
The veteran wing’s back is entirely covered in ink, markings that mean more to him than any other tattoo fans can regularly see as he jogs down the court to assume a defensive position after flushing a three-point shot.
A Coach, A Friend, A Father
Those words hang below a portrait of the Sixers’ wing — as a child — next to his father, Danny Green Sr.
It’s easy to see the sentimentality of the art. But like most tattoos, the meaning of the picture goes beyond the skin.
“It was during a time when he was incarcerated. And he’s the one that pretty much raised me. He taught me the game of basketball. Put the ball in my hand. And during a time where I probably needed my parents most, I was in college. I had to become the man of the house,” Green tells The Painted Lines.
The Green siblings saw their parents split after a falling out between their father’s side of the family and their mother, Rene’ Darrell. She took the youngest Green brother, Dante, with her. Rene’ is still nearby, but the relationship isn’t comparable to the relationship Danny and his two other brothers had with their father growing up.
“We grew up with our dad, so we were used to him and sports. She wasn’t around as much with us and for us,” Green explains.
“She had a job and stuff, she wasn’t supporting us while we were in college. We weren’t used to living with her. She wasn’t a coach, so she wasn’t around to talk to us about basketball and sports.”
The 34-year-old NBA vet credits his father for more than raising him. Danny Sr. paved his son’s relationship with basketball.
“He put the ball in my hands when I was two years old. I’ve loved the game since then. But obviously he loved the game. So, that’s why I loved the game,” Green says.
“He was always my superhero, you know. Everybody, your parents are your heroes. You look up to them. So yeah, he’s the guy that taught me the game. I looked up to him. We loved the game. We watched it. He’s a big fan and I watched it so I became a fan because he was.”
Green Sr. did more than raise basketball players.
“Not often you see parents split and the dad raises the kid. He took us and raised us and made sure we did right — not just with basketball, but school. So, he made sure we stay on the right path and he helped with growth,” Green says.
And then in early 2006, the patriarch was arrested on charges of participating in a multimillion-dollar cocaine operation. Danny was just a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Suddenly, an “outlet” was more than just a pass on the basketball court.
“[I balanced it] A day at a time. So, I was away at college trying to focus on school and then being in the gym. That was my outlet. Whenever I had frustrating, rough nights, I’d go in at nights to get some shots up. Try not to think about what was going on back home. There was a time I thought about transferring to help and be back closer to home. I just focused on school and my books and, of course, on the court trying to get better.”
At home, Green’s brothers — Devonte and Dante — were without a father. Having to worry about them made the situation all the more taxing for the eventual National Champion Tar Heel.
“It’s me and my brothers. I got my brothers on me, too,” Green says while pointing to his right bicep.
“My dad had another one, so I do have a younger sister [Summer] now. There’s five of us, total. My three younger brothers and sister. My youngest brother [Dante] was, I think, a couple years old. But, my other brother [Rashad] was in college in San Francisco. He was known before he went to San Francisco because he was in Manhattan College. Prep school, Manhattan College, and ended up going to San Francisco, USF. I was in college and my younger brother [Devante] was in middle school. Spread out a little bit after me, like 10 years. So, they were still young and going through it and learning.”
As it turns out, the father-sized vacancy in Danny’s life served as a reminder to not take his toughest critic for granted.
“We weren’t sure when he was gonna get out. But him being away that time, you take for granted, as a kid, talking to your parents and how much they’re there,” Green explains.
“He was my biggest coach, biggest critic. I dread talking to him about the game. Him always criticizing what I need to do, where I need to be. But when he was away, I took it for granted. I couldn’t talk to him like I needed to, I wanted to. I had to wait like maybe once or twice a week. Sometimes I get the call, sometimes I miss it. Yeah, so I got that in memory and honor of him.”
Green Sr. is out of jail now. But, his son — who is hitting 39 percent of his 4.8 three-point shots per game for Philadelphia this season — wants to carry those trying times wherever he goes.
Now, Danny Sr is the Director and CEO of Team Green basketball camp. Green’s 24-year-old brother, Devonte, is a recent graduate of Indiana University and is beginning his professional career. His youngest brother, Dante, is still in high school.
But, those difficult times almost sixteen years ago heightened Danny’s appreciation for his father. The ink on his back will ensure that that appreciation never fades.
“Still to this day, [he] watches the game, coaches, criticizes. Obviously, I’ve taken one ear out. Sometimes, I take it with a grain of salt,” Green says.
“But, some things he has good input on and a lot of things he learned from me because he doesn’t know on this level how things go. But seeing him from his perspective — because he is a coach, he does understand the game, is a big fan of the game, always has been seen. So, seeing from his perspective always helps me put things in a different state and also attack it differently.”
His father’s perspective helped shape Danny into the record-holder for the second most threes made in an NBA Finals.
Made In New York, Limited Edition
Those words are etched in black ink on Green’s wrists.
The first phrase is inked onto his right wrist, while the second is seared into the surface of his left wrist.
“Everything’s a form of expression. You know, where you’ve been, where you’re from. Your story, your pathway,” Green tells The Painted Lines.
“This is where I’m from. I like to think of myself from that area, from where I’m from. I feel like I remind myself that I’m a rarity. And I beat the odds.”
The native of North Babylon, New York estimates that he got his first tattoo when he was 17 or 18 years old. A massive drawing on his left shoulder.
“You can see by the quality because all my stuff has been done by pretty good people. See how much it’s faded a little bit over the time. It wasn’t that creative. Something somebody drew up, I thought it was dope. I wanted something that represented me,” Green says.
“At 17, you don’t have many creative ideas. There’s not much that represents you. You don’t have much of a story at that point. So, I got a guy that plays ball and looks like me a little bit. I tried to make him a strong, massive, monstrous guy. More human, not as much of a Hulk or superhero. But a human, strong guy. It reminds me of anywhere I go, I hold up. I hold my own wherever I go.”
Except, Green has done far more than hold his own. His professional journey started with the 46th pick in the 2009 NBA draft. It features 3 separate stints in the G-League, a tour of the Slovenian League during the 2011 NBA lockout, and 5 different NBA teams.
Three of those NBA teams — the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs, 2018-19 Toronto Raptors, and 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers — won championships with Green in their respective starting lineups.
He has cash to go along with the rings, too. Spotrac estimates that Green will have earned just over $100 million in his career to date if the Sixers pick up his $10 million option for 2022-23.
My eyes don’t catch any markings representing dollars or money as Green and I sit in plastic blue chairs across from one another in the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. It’s impossible to miss the championship tattoos, though.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Green didn’t take a single shot in the Raptors’ title-clinching win over the Warriors in 2019. Maybe it’s the belief that Green would’ve signed with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2019 if the Lakers had signed Kawhi Leonard. Maybe it’s that he re-signed with the Sixers this past offseason (I get the sense that his market materialized to about half of what he expected it to be).
The message seems clear — winning takes priority over money and spotlight.
Steve Wiebe And The Canada Tour
That taste for championships inspired a return to the ink game.
“I had gone 10 years without getting tatted until after we won in 2019 with Toronto. We did the tour of the camps all around Canada. And during that tour, we did a TV show. So, it was a TV series in Canada, only aired in Canada. But we did special things in each city, each providence, and special people from those areas. We had a chance to interview those people,” Green explains.
“It just so happened one of the top people in Vancouver was Steve Wiebe, so he’s a famous tattoo artist. And they’re like, ‘Are you up for getting a tattoo on the show?’, and I was like, ‘Shit it’s been 10 years, but why not?’, you know? So then Steve is obviously really good. All of them are good, but he did it smartly. We did a couple little pieces, but he left space to where I needed to get more.”
That space inspired him to pay homage to what makes Danny Green, Danny Green.
“So, I had to come back for more. My brother had the shooting code on his arm. So, I was like ‘I gotta get some type of shooting sleeve or some type of thing that represents me being a shooter,’,” Green says.
“We started out with the scope, the eagle eye, and, I think, the bull’s eye. Just had so much space here. He’s like, ‘We got to finish that. I know you’re a big Marvel fan, here’s some ideas I have,’. So, we did a lot of Marvel characters that represented snipers or marksmen. So, we got a bull’s eye, we got Deathstroke, and Deadshot. And then we added Gambit. We had a green arrow. It became a whole thing.”
Steve Butcher, Ganga, And Los Angeles
That appreciation for art didn’t dissipate after Green won with the Raptors, though. Having signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2019, Green put his trust in some of the world’s most renowned artists during his time in Los Angeles.
“Another famous artist, Steve Butcher, is really good. And I was like, ‘Yo, he does some great work. I gotta get something from him. You just look at different artists and pick from each person to wear their art. So I saw some of his stuff. I was like, ‘I gotta get something from him,’,” Green explains.
“I didn’t know what to get at the time. But a lot of my friends were like, ‘Yo, I want to get this, this, and this,’. I finally thought of something. I was like, ‘You know what, I was always like a big fan of the Titans and Godzilla, King Kong and all those,’. So, I went and got that from him. King Kong, Godzilla — Dorat, Rodan, and Mothra. I got all the Titans on me,” he says.
Still, there was something missing from the collection. Rings are shiny tokens of your brightest moments as a professional athlete. But, Green wanted to commemorate his highest highs with something that was, perhaps, limited edition.
“We won in LA, we won in Toronto. I always wanted a sleeve to represent something of my [champion]ships, so I got a chance to do those. He [Butcher] did the LA one because I found him in LA. The other Steve, he’s from Canada, so I let him do the Toronto one,” Green explains.
“I was trying to get 10 to 20 artists. But, I couldn’t find anybody. I went to Ganga, who also had some good art. He was based in LA, and I saw a lot of guys getting work from him. So, I went to him and he left some space for the rest of the story to finish. I’ll go back and finish some pieces, but that’s how it all mapped out.”
Finishing The Rest Of The Story
Green has a few more years of basketball left in his playing career. But, there are still many chapters of his life left to be written — or drawn. For now, there are a few drafts that could be in play.
Asked how much money Inside The Green Room, his podcast with co-host Harrison Sanford, would need to make on its new deal in order for him to get a tattoo of the logo, Green jokes, “Wheeeew. Actually, you know what, if we sign something like that [Pat McAfee’s recent deal] or anything similar, or even half that, even a third of that, I’ll get the Inside The Green Room tattoo.”
“We’ll figure it out. It’s small, but I’ll put it somewhere on the championship sleeve because that’s a win. That’s a win,” Green adds. “If we get a win like that, I’ll find a spot where we can fit it in somewhere. Inside The Green Room could fit anywhere in these little crevices. Small, little tattoo — I can get that done.”
Editor’s note: The deal didn’t quite meet that number.
Or, perhaps the next ink will commemorate his recent marriage.
“It is something we plan on doing. We were gonna do it beforehand. We did get the 14 together when we were younger, we both wore the same number in college. She wore 14, I still wear 14. So we did both get the 14 when we were dating during that time period,” Green says while lifting the right side of his practice jersey to show the marking.
“But, we have not gotten the marriage tattoos yet. But, I’m sure that’s something that’s guaranteed. I’ve gotten this many tattoos. That’s gonna be an easy one I’m gonna have to get. I might be forced into it, but it’s gonna be a strong idea suggestion that’s going to be hard to avoid if I’ve gotten everything else on my body.”
If not that, maybe the next project won’t even involve Green adding to his own collection.
Asked which of his three max-salary teammates he could convince to get tattooed, Green says, “I think Ben has a tattoo — small, but he has one. He has the plus-six-one [country code for Australia] on his wrist. He got it re-done this summer. But, could I convince Tobias? No. Joel? No.”
“I think the only person that would be open to probably getting it would be Ben. It would be a small one. But yeah, that‘s for another day,” Green says, igniting a chuckle from both of us.