Two years removed from playing in a NBA record 1,192 consecutive games over 15 straight seasons, A.C. Green spends little time these days in NBA circles.
Business ventures, hundreds of speaking engagements and overseeing a youth organization that emphasizes abstinence and self-esteem keeps the former NBA power forward too busy to be entirely concerned about what's going right or wrong with the NBA or his former Los Angeles Lakers.
Nevertheless, Green is aware of the latest headlines that have generated a groundswell of negativity about the league in which he established a reputation for being one of professional sports' ultimate role models. Not only did he prove to be one of the most dependable players in the league by showing up every night over a stretch of nearly two decades, Green, a devout Christian, spoke openly during his career about abstinence and living the life of a virgin in the NBA.
News about several NBA players winding up in trouble this summer doesn't come as a surprise to Green, who was a teammate of Kobe Bryant during the Lakers' championship run during the 1999-2000 season. Green, who spoke during the two morning services yesterday at Cornerstone Church, opted not to talk specifically about Bryant's case before catching a plane back to Los Angeles.
“The NBA is the NBA,” Green said. “I just think there's nothing that has changed a whole lot with the NBA from the time when I was playing.”
Green, who turns 40 in October and still looks fit enough to earn an NBA income, is not one who thinks the media overly sensationalizes a story whenever an athlete ends up in court. Green considered himself and every other professional athlete a role model.
“I think you should be held to different standards,” Green said. “The type of influence professional athletes have is different from that of a CEO of some company.”
Green believes the reason athletes are regularly making headlines for breaking laws and getting into trouble is because they're not equipped to deal with all the perks that come with becoming instantly famous and wealthy. With millions of dollars at their disposal, athletes find themselves in a position to live by their own set of rules, according to Green.
“You create your own world,” he said. “It's your own life.”
Green, who helped the Lakers win three titles, believes establishing better programs within professional sports to address “character development” would help remedy many problems.
“If you put a support staff in place it's going to help make a difference,” he said.
Green, who has been married to his wife, Veronique, for 15 months, said his decision to remain a virgin was never intended to be a cause.
“It was just my life,” Green said. “It was just me. I was just being myself and that's the only way it really should be.”
As for the Lakers, Green is cautiously optimistic about adding All-Stars Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
“It all depends on the chemistry of the team,” Green said. “On paper, it looks great. But we have to wait and see the team's chemistry.”