Michigan State paid former All-American performer Draymond Green the highest of honors on Tuesday night as they officially retired his No. 23 jersey number and put it into the rafters. Green played in two Final Fours with the Spartans, was a consensus All-American and earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors before making himself into one of the most unique talents in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors.
As Green accepted the honor of having his jersey be enshrined into Michigan State history on Tuesday, he choked back tears as he recalled his time at Michigan State
“This is special,” he said. “As a kid from Saginaw, Michigan, my goal and dream was to play at Michigan State — it was never to get my jersey retired. I lived that dream.”
Green was accompanied by some of the long-time players he’s grown with in the NBA in recent years, including his coach, Steve Kerr. Among the handful of Warriors players in attendance for the ceremony were Klay Thompson, D’Angelo Russell and Zaza Pachulia. Warriors owner Joe Lacob was also on hand.
It was a feel-good night all-around for the former Sparty star, but on the actual hardwood, it wasn’t anything but. Preseason No. 1 Michigan State fell to Duke 87-75 in front of a packed house at the Breslin Center, and Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo wasn’t too pleased about the team laying an egg in front of a former great.
“I’m embarrassed,” Izzo said after the game. “I’m embarrassed that a player that I love came back here who probably laid some of the groundwork with Mateen Cleaves on toughness, and I didn’t think that we played with that tonight. I’m sure there were some bright spots. Xavier definitely was one. I thought Marcus was one. I thought a couple guys competed. I thought Rocket competed, and I thought some guys didn’t compete as well. That’s my job. The only one that should be held accountable for that is me.”
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