MIAMI (AP) — Danny Green smiled as he stepped behind the interview podium and a crowd of reporters gathered around him to talk about the NBA Finals.
On a San Antonio Spurs team that steps into the spotlight reluctantly, and occasionally petulantly, Green seems only too happy to entertain questions and relay his story.
No one wanted to talk to him in Slovenia. There were rarely demands for interviews when he was playing in Reno or Austin. His phone rarely rang after he was cut first by Cleveland and twice was cast off by these Spurs.
Now that Green has cemented his status as a pivotal role player for San Antonio in the finals, he can be forgiven for enjoying a little bit of the attention that so many of his teammates shun.
"It's been a long journey," Green said. "It's been a roller-coaster ride for me. I'm very happy and blessed to be here and have this opportunity, and I just want to take advantage of it."
Green scored 12 points in San Antonio's Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat, hitting four 3-pointers and taking turns defensively on stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
He is in the first season of a three-year deal that will pay him close to $12 million and starting for a team that is going for its fifth championship. Not bad for a guy who played 28 games and was cut three times in his first two seasons in the NBA and openly wondered if he had what it took to play in the top basketball league in the world.
"I'm very proud of Danny," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. "We had him, then we cut him, came back, cut him, came back, and he just showed a lot of toughness mentally. It's not easy to make an NBA team. And Danny is very important in what we do."
After a standout career at North Carolina, Green was picked in the second round by the Cavaliers. He played sparingly in 20 games as a rookie, becoming fast friends with James, who was still one year away from making the jump to Miami.
He was waived by Cleveland before the next season started and picked up by the Spurs. Green lasted less than a week in his first go-around in San Antonio, but was brought back for the final month of the season before the NBA lockout left him without a team that summer. Green went overseas to play in Slovenia and also labored through NBA Development League stints with Reno before getting another shot with the Spurs.