Michigan State has made the nation’s most trips to the Final Four—their eighth in 22 seasons came last spring in Minneapolis. The Spartans also have the longest streak in Big Ten history and the third-longest active streak in the nation.
“Michigan State is looked upon as an elite program now,” former MSU great Greg Kelser (1975-79) said proudly. “I like to think that it started in 1979 [he played on the State’s first NCAA championship team] and it has grown, gotten better and more respected since that time.” Kelser’s number 32 was later retired by the school.
Draymond Green played on two of State’s Final Four trips (2009, 2010), three Big Ten regular-season championships (2009, 2010, 2012), and the 2012 conference tournament championship. He is one of four players in school history to earn National Player of the Year honors (2012).
Green is the Spartans’ all-time rebounder, second in steals and sixth in blocks, and one of four MSU players to record a triple-double (three total) including two in NCAA tournament play. His number 23 was retired in December.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Green told the MSR earlier this year during a visit to Minneapolis. “My jersey will be hanging in the rafters for my entire life.”
Now an eight-year NBA veteran, the 6’-6” Green is a three-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, and one of two Golden State players to be a second-rounder and winner of at least three NBA titles. “There are a lot of special guys up there, and to be one of those guys means a lot to me,” he added.
“Draymond is one of my favorite players of all time,” MSU Coach Tom Izzo admitted. “I think [former Minnesota coach] Clem [Haskins] would have liked him. He and Clem would have gone at it, but at the end of the day, he would have loved him to death. He was just a perfect Clem guy, and he is the perfect me guy.”
“I’m thrilled that he had his jersey retired,” Izzo said. “It’s really cool when guys give back a lot and do a lot for their community, and get honored in that way. I’m proud of him.”
Of his Spartan career, Green said simply, “I was a winner.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.