Green, Howard’s championship experience is invaluable to Sixers
New Sixer Danny Green has vivid memories of playing in Philadelphia. His foremost recollections were from the seven-game series he took part in as a member of the Toronto Raptors back in 2019.
While it ended brutally for the Sixers, Green remembers the difficulty of dealing with the team’s size defensively and, of course, the rabidness of the fans.
“I always hated playing in Philly,” Green said Wednesday. “It was a pain in the a-- to play them — especially the fans getting on you.”
That was a hard-fought series among several throughout Green’s 11 NBA seasons. Less than two months ago, he won his third ring with the Los Angeles Lakers. Future Hall of Fame big Dwight Howard, signed by the Sixers this offseason, captured his first.
Since Joel Embiid was drafted in 2014, do you know how many players with championships the Sixers have had?
Four — Tiago Splitter (eight games), James Michael McAdoo (three games), Corey Brewer (seven games), and Marco Belinelli, who played in just 28 regular-season games and 10 playoff games here.
Perhaps Green and Howard, guys with valuable experience and wisdom they’re eager to pass on, can provide a championship influence on a still fairly young basketball team.
"My job, I think, is more important off the floor than it is on the floor for this group,” Green said.
Green mentioned not wanting to come in and rock the boat immediately. He’d rather acclimate himself to his new team before barking orders. On his own podcast, Inside the Green Room, he mentioned how he’ll encourage Ben Simmons to shoot. How those conversations play out — and if they result in more shots from Simmons — will be interesting.
Howard meanwhile has been all-in on the idea of mentoring Simmons and Embiid. It’s quite the departure for Howard, the No. 1 overall pick out of high school in 2004, an eight-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
The latter stages of Howard’s career haven’t been nearly as rosy. The Sixers will be his sixth team in the last six seasons. In his second stint with the Lakers, he humbled himself and accepted a backup role. He helped deliver that franchise its 17th championship.
In Philadelphia, he’ll back up Embiid, a three-time All-Star and one of the best big men in the league.
"Playing alongside Jo and Ben, I think for me it's just giving them a sense that they can do anything," Howard said earlier this week. "For Joel, it's just pushing him every single day to know that he's the best, and every time he steps on the floor, he has to be the best player on the floor — whether that be practice, in the weight room, in the training room, during all the games.”
Howard saw firsthand the relationship LeBron James and Anthony Davis formed in L.A. He said the pair learned each other on and off the court and sacrificed for one other in order to win a title.
He thinks Embiid and Simmons can do the same thing.
"I see so much potential out of those two — what they can bring to a team, the championships that they can have — just all the blessings they can get from playing this great game of basketball. I really just want to be that person to help push them toward their greatness."
While Howard was able to capture his first ring, it was the third for Green. He won with the Spurs in 2014, the Raptors — after getting through the Sixers — in 2019, and the Lakers last season.
After back-to-back titles, it’s up to the Sixers to get Green a three-peat.
"I'm glad that they wanted me, I hope I live up to expectations, but also the pressure is on them," Green said. "I won back to back. It's their job to get me there to win another one. If they don't, they f---ed it up."
Green was clearly joking but keeping that kind of pressure on his new teammates may not be a bad thing.