Before he became coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, Willie Green carved out a solid career in the NBA. Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 41st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Green played 12 years in the league, seven of them with the Sixers.
Green averaged 9.4 points and 1.9 rebounds while starting 211 games for the Sixers during his career and he also started 12 of the 17 playoff games he played in for Philadelphia. He is a guy who did the defensive dirty work while also giving the team some solid guard play.
He was then sent to the then-New Orleans Hornets and as he made his return to Philadelphia on Tuesday with the Pelicans as a coach, Green had nothing but good things to say about the city and the organization.
“Even before I walked in, the moment the plane lands in Philadelphia, there’s a connection,” said Green. “This city, this organization, is a part of what raised me in the NBA and I’m grateful to have started my career here. Then walking through these doors just brings back so many memories and great times with my teammates, the staff here, and the fans.”
Green also played with current Sixers general manager Elton Brand in the 2008-09 season. That was Brand’s first season in Philadelphia and while his playing career with the Sixers wasn’t anything hugely special, but he was able to still make an impact on his teammates.
“Elton was great,” Green explained. “He took a lot of us young guys under his wing, kinda showed us the ropes, watched film with us, and he was everything you wanted in a star, a leader, and a role model at that time here in Philly.”
Other than his connection with Brand, there is also a connection with Sixers coach Doc Rivers for Green. He played for Rivers for two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and he had a big influence on Green getting into coaching.
“Doc has been great,” he stated. “I played for him with the Clippers, from that time on, he always predicted that I would have an opportunity to coach in this league and we stay on text messages, he’s been influential in my development as a coach, and we’ll go out and compete and after, we’ll continue to talk about basketball like we normally do.”
New Orleans got off to a tough start in the 2021-22 season as they started 2-14. Rivers was then texting Green to give him encouragement and the Pelicans began picking it up as they are now 18-29 on the season following a loss to the Sixers on Tuesday.
“Yeah, he has,’ Green said of Rivers communicating with him. “Especially early in the season when it was tough for our team. We didn’t have a great start and Doc was one of the coaches that I leaned on and we would text each other back and forth.”
Despite Green now being with the Pelicans, his contributions for the Sixers and his connections will always be there for him.
This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!