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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 10, 2015
East Lansing, Michigan
MARK HOLLIS: Welcome, everyone. We're not announcing anybody's retirement today, so that rumor has been floating around. Let that one go. It's a very exciting weekend on campus. It starts today. We're very honored to have Draymond Green back in town and we have a few very special announcements we'd like to make, and I'd like to open it up with President Simon.
PRESIDENT SIMON: We're really pleased that you're here. Almost a year ago we announced publicly our campaign Empower MSU and Empower Extraordinary. What you know is when you want to have something extraordinary it starts with people, and we're here to recognize an individual who we all know in a variety of ways, but has made a significant statement about Michigan State and about the capacity to Empower Extraordinary. So it really is my pleasure to turn it over to Draymond.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Thank you. It's always a pleasure to be back here. So thankful for this place. I mean, it's been just amazing in my life and the person I've become, even more so than the player I've become. One thing people always ask me about is Michigan State and they ask me about Coach Izzo. I say I appreciate him more in the person that he helped me realize I needed to be rather than the basketball player because that goes a much further way in life than basketball does. So I thank you for that.
I mean, coming to Michigan State I was a boy who, as most 18-year-olds are, you don't really know who you are. You don't really know your identity. You're trying to find yourself. You think you're a man, but you're really not. You think you know more than your parents, but you really don't. You think you know more than the coach, you have no clue. He helped me realize that quick.
It's just been great. The things that Michigan State and just the route that it's given me, the platform it's given me to be successful, I thank you all for that, whether it was just Dr. Simon having us be a part of the best university in the world. I used to always tell our athletic director over here Mark Hollis, man, you're the best athletic director, before the world realizes it though. I knew that before all the recognition came and everybody wanted him on every board and heading the board of the NCAA Tournament. I knew that, because he was always working for us, giving us a platform. I see in the gym now he'd say anywhere, anyplace, anytime or something like that, and he was giving us the opportunity to do that.
I was just over talking to the football guys and I told them, and I tell them the same thing, don't take this for granted. Winning the championship was fun, signing the contract was fun. I come back here every summer and I come back for a reason because you miss this place. It is so great, and I'm thankful to be a Spartan. When I come back here I don't say I'm going to East Lansing. I say I'm going home. That's important to me. So I thank you all for that.
PRESIDENT SIMON: And we're here to celebrate not only you as an individual, but the announcement of a $3.1 million gift to the Empower Campaign that will go for the naming of the strength and conditioning room in support -- after the board approves the naming -- also for support of individuals through scholarships. It is an extraordinary gift.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Thank you, thank you. One more thing. My entire life has been just about family, whether it was growing up in a family with my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my grandfather, everything was just about family. I went on to Saginaw High School and Coach Dawkins, and every day was about a family. It was about taking care of your brother. It was about looking out for each other, which is one of the things that really enticed me about Michigan State was when I came here I knew I was welcome. It just felt like a family.
AAU basketball, I played with the family. Our motto was God, who I thank every day, it was school, Michigan State, it doesn't get any better than that. So God, school, my family, the family, our way of life. That's something I still apply to my life every single day. I just try to live by that. Coach Izzo taught me how important family was, and this is a family that I have that is with me forever, I'm with forever. I just have to put that out there. I thank you for that.
PRESIDENT SIMON: And it's an extraordinary family gift because your family here will benefit enormously from it, not simply today but for tomorrow. Tom?
COACH IZZO: Yeah, I don't know what to say. I mean he had me speechless. Lot of times he spoke more than I spoke in some of those huddles.
But I want to thank Draymond. I want to thank him for the gift is like frosting on the cake. It's what he's done for us ever since he came here. He's one of the best recruiters. He's been one of the best leaders. He's kept me sane, got me crazy a few times. But it's been an enjoyable journey to take my son out to California and watch the other people, you know, his half-family out there. I can't give them full credit yet until they put a few more years in there.
But the way people just embrace him. I always said that I'd want to hire someone that has better people skills and knowledgeable skills, and if you have people skills, you go a long way. He's got as good of people skills as I've ever seen.
What I appreciate about him because of what I think I stand for at this place is he's not just a basketball guy. He just came from speaking at football. I see Tom. I see a lot of our coaches here. I'll never forget his senior year, his mission, his goal was I'm going to one sporting event of every sport. Am I right about that? When he got to hockey, I said not a lot of brothers in hockey now, so I didn't know if he understood that sport, but he was over there supporting. I want you to know that, and did an unbelievable job just with everybody.
That's what I love most about him besides his competitiveness, besides how good he's become. He's got to take credit for that. To have your name on something here is really important. But to have your body here is even more important, and I publicly can't thank you enough.
I'm looking at this and tried to do a little research. I think it might be the largest gift by an athlete anywhere, and you deserve to be in that spot looking down on everybody, and I want to publicly thank you and tell you I love you.
MARK HOLLIS: Before we open up to some questions. I want to make a couple other brief comments. Day-Day had a habit of finding my office, and that's an unusual thing for a college student to venture across the street and walk into the athletic director's office, sometimes with the request for help, which is a remarkable statement, and sometimes with a suggestion on what should be done. He became one of my key advisors as a student-athlete.
He is frequently an individual that I'll call and say, hey, this is going on. What do you think? Where should we go, what should we do? And it's that relationship that's so unique. The Spartan Fund has done a fabulous job in our campaign moving forward. But once again, this was one of the easiest gifts we've ever received. Once again, Draymond walked across the street without solicitation and said I want to do this for Michigan State. I want to do this for those that follow.
We strive to provide the best at Michigan State: The best coaches, the best facilities, the best service possible, and I think Day-Day would be the first to say he had an unbelievable experience, had unbelievable resources, and yet he wants to step forward and make sure that those student-athletes that follow for years to come have the opportunity to have something that's even better.
So on behalf of the whole department, all 25 sports, our coaches, our student-athletes and all the staff that have joined us here today are currently doing their work getting ready for this weekend, we thank you immensely. Thanks, Day-Day.
COACH IZZO: Hey, Mark, yeah, our motto for the year is Take It to Another Level. We get back to these Final Fours and we haven't won another one, and that's the ultimate goal. So taking it to another level.
MARK HOLLIS: So we're reaching higher and Taking It to Another Level.
COACH IZZO: You took it to another level.
PRESIDENT SIMON: And you've helped enormously with our campaign to take it to another level both in terms of the dollar amount but also in terms of the spirit in which it was given.
COACH IZZO: Yes, yeah.
Q. Draymond, you made an interesting comment about how you were a boy and when you came here you became a man. I wondered in this era when so oftentimes people view athletes collegiately as being exploited, if you could talk about perhaps the overarching and overwhelming dividend that comes to individuals for the simple fact that they have gone to college, and they have been able in many cases to break what might have been a cycle of hopelessness?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Absolutely, I think a lot of times, especially in our sport it's almost looked down on now to go to college or not. I'll never understand it. Because even if you look at it when you do go to college, the guys who go to college and spend some time in college, if you go on to the NBA you're probably a little more ready than the guy who was in college for a year. So I'll never understand it.
So many people look down on college, and I just don't get it because it gives you -- it's a time of your life that you have room for growth, and it allows you to grow. So you make a couple mistakes in college and Coach Izzo held me in the office until 3 o'clock in the morning and I had to be up for class at 8 o'clock a.m., but it's okay because it's a part of growing.
I'm not sure why so many people look down on it because it's been the best thing that ever happened to me. So I mean, I guess I can be a walking testimony of what college can do for you, but I just don't understand the whole concept of why so many people are against college. Maybe it's because they didn't go to Michigan State. I don't know.
Q. Mark, is it the largest gift ever given by an athlete here?
MARK HOLLIS: Yes.
Q. Draymond, I don't even think you've cashed a paycheck yet on your new deal. What is the significance of the timing of this? Why did you want to do this now?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Well, it was something that I've always wanted to do. When you look at a guy like Bob Skandalaris who has given numerous amount of dollars, and you look at a guy who I'm super close with, who I was in the office with every day who I just so happened to still be in college when he gave his gift, Coach Izzo, and the excitement that he had behind it about doing it. And it's like, I wonder if I'll ever have that excitement about giving some money away? I don't know if I ever will (laughing).
I was on the flight here last night, and the first hour-and-a-half I was antsy, like I couldn't go to sleep. I do the red eye, sleep on the red eye, get off the plane and go about my day. Didn't quite work that well last night. I was antsy like a little kid just ready to get here. It was just something that was super important for me to do to give back to, like I said -- I mean, everybody who knows me and knows my story, I was pretty heavy when I got here and not expected to be a pro or doing what I'm doing today. So can I come in here and take credit for that or do I give the credit where it's rightfully due, which is this university? And if so, how do I show my thanks? That was just a small way of me saying thank you.
I can say thank you all I want and I can talk to Coach Izzo every day. But how do I do something to say thank you but to also help these guys over here have the opportunity that I have? One thing Coach Izzo used to always tell me is I'm living my dream. All I want to do is see you live yours. As a freshman, it's hard to believe that. The way he's on you, you don't understand it, it's hard to believe it. Once you realize this guy wants me to be successful more than I want to be successful, it develops that love and makes you want to come back and give back to these guys like others have done for me.
So to get back to your question on why I did it so fast, it was something that was placed on my heart. It was something that I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do it. I didn't know how quick I wanted to do it.
I was actually down in Cabo at Andre Iguodala's wedding, and I was talking to my Uncle Wes. He asked me, Are you giving back to the school? I said, Of course, I'm giving back. He said, When are you doing it? I said, I think I want to do it now, but I'm not if I want to do it now. I'm not sure if I want to wait. Do I want to try to get my money in the bank before I do it? Or do I just want to do it now? I said, I think it's the right thing to do now. He said, I think it's the right thing to do now too.
I called Coach Izzo as soon as I got back from Cabo. I don't think Coach Izzo was good enough for my $4-a-minute call, so I had to wait until I got back, and I told him it was something I wanted to do. And that same day, I talked to Mr. Hollis and I talked to Dr. Simon, which that's another thing that's special to me. I talked to him probably twice a month, three times a month, and I can get in contact with the president of the school anytime I want.
I know some guys in the NBA that don't know the president of their school. That's what makes this place special to me, and that's what makes me want to give back as quick as I did.
Q. I'm just curious, when you decided you wanted to give something back, did you have a specific idea in mind? Was the strength and conditioning thing your idea, or did you work together to figure out the best place to be to direct those funds?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Well, Coach Izzo and I had this idea for quite a while. I actually was here when he first started talking about it. So I knew it was being done. When I called and said I wanted to give the donation, it would just seem like that was something that it can go towards. I think a lot of times the one thing that I don't want to float under the radar about this donation is the scholarship piece, the money that's going to that side. Because a lot of times -- not at Michigan State, just in general -- you always hear the word student-athlete, student-athlete this, student-athlete that. But then you sit back and you analyze how much of that student part is the part people really think matters. How much is that student part really pushed out there?
If I sit back and analyze it, I don't think it's as much as the athlete side, and that's important to me to give to that side because can any of us play if we don't get our grades? No. Can any of us play if there is no scholarship for us? No. So coming from Saginaw, I know how important it is to have a scholarship. As much as my dad works, he couldn't afford to send me to college. As much as my mom works, she couldn't afford to send me to college. So a scholarship is what got me through. A scholarship is what got me here, and I want to be in a position to help someone else with that.
MARK HOLLIS: I think also as you talk through giving of other student-athletes here, Magic Johnson, Steve Smith, Flozell Adams, it's a culture at Michigan State that you very much wanted to follow.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Absolutely, absolutely. When you look at those guys -- obviously, I'm big into my Michigan State history, and those guys, I followed all of them. To be placed in that category with them, I mean I never imagined my name being anywhere where it's been placed in Michigan State history. But to join that group in that category was special to me.
Q. Mark or Tom, how will this be used specifically, and what is the strength center and can you give us more details on that? How much is going to the endowment?
MARK HOLLIS: $1 million is going to go to the strength and conditioning facility that will be part of a complex that's being added to the Breslin Center, it will include a Hall of History, it will include a locker room for those former student-athletes that have gone on to play in the NBA and professionally. It's going to include some nutrition and hydration facilities that will be adjacent to the practice gym. So part of it is going to be below ground. It's going to be a grand entrance to the Breslin Center. It's going to be a thouroughway for the public attending games as well as a recruiting center, an area that families and student-athlete prospects can come to not only every day but also the evening of the game.
So it's a great facility. It's going to touch a lot of different areas, but where it gets done as most student-athletes know, is in the weight room.
COACH IZZO: He did it so quick that we're still a work in progress on some of it too, right.
MARK HOLLIS: Tom hasn't seen the drawings, I have, so it's that early. But it's quite a project that we've been working on for some time.
PRESIDENT SIMON: It's kind of belief in the future and belief in people that is represented by the campaign, the Empower Campaign. That's what's so special about Draymond's gift and that faith that this is going to happen without having to see every design and every plan. It's just important to do and he's going to help us do it.
MARK HOLLIS: I also think what Draymond said should not be overlooked on the scholarship piece. Generally when you go and ask for a gift, you're very excited and the potential donor calms you down. In this case I had to calm Day-Day down. He was jumping, I want to do this, and I want to do that.
We very purposefully went through all the different components that are included in this gift, and Day-Day had a very far-reaching thought process. It wasn't just about putting bricks in the ground. It was about making a difference. Very similar to the attitude that Steve Smith had with the facility. He wants the future. He wants kids that are in middle school today to have an amazing opportunity knowing they have to do the work like Day-Day did the work. It's not given to them, but the opportunity to be successful in life and be successful on the court.
Q. Question about the scholarship. So will the $2.1 million which is left after the million for the strength and conditioning, will that go to athletic scholarships or to endow them or how does that get set apart, Day-Day?
DRAYMOND GREEN: Well, as he just said, I gave my million to the basketball facility, and I said I want some money to go to the scholarship side of things, and I have a great, great tremendous amount of trust in them and the Spartan Fund and everybody at Michigan State University, and my trust they'll figure it out.
Q. I wanted to ask you, through all the years of the ups and downs and the wins and the frustrations and everything of being a coach, when you sit next to Draymond and he's saying all those things about what this place has meant to him, I guess I'm just trying to get at what's going through your mind when you hear that from him?
COACH IZZO: I've often said that what makes the job worthwhile is the guys that come back. This weekend is big. When he called me I've never received a call like that, number one, and then when he said he wanted to do it quickly, I said, Why? And as Mark said, he's had this whole thing thought out. He said, well, we've got a reunion here, and football's got its big game and all their players will be back. You know, there will be recruits, it's just the right time to share the word.
I thought your question before was good. Sometimes we get so confused on what is important. His four years were phenomenal here. I mean, he grew, he helped me grow, he helped us grow.
When I look at what I saw when I went out to California or what I saw when I went to Cleveland when he was playing those games, it was just special. When I sat in the team room after the game and listened to veteran players a year ago talk about him and they're talking about, hey, this rookie, his first-year guy, second-year guys. I said, My guy's one of those guys. Yeah, But he's different. That's the way it was looked upon by veterans on his team.
I think that's proud, excited, grateful would be the words that I'd look at. I'm proud of him, I'm excited for him because he was so excited. I got a text, I think it was last night or this morning. He said I'm so -- he kind of is a Half Upper, so he used words that I'm very, very excited, I'll just say, to get there tomorrow. And I'm saying to myself he's giving to us and he's that excited. That's special. I don't know.
I think it's great to have my team here because he's right about one thing, and I've learned and I'm going to do again. That old adage about giving is better than receiving. It took me a while to give, and I think he wants to be a role model for even former players and current players and players that are in the future of giving back is a cool thing.
If you were as excited as you were when I got those texts, I mean, this is all week long, I'm as excited for him. But I can't tell you how proud I am of him because not many people -- we have a Spartan Fund for a reason. We have campaigns for a reason. We go out and try to convince people to give back. This guy was calling me, and I didn't even know how to -- I didn't even know how to talk to him. What do you think if I gave this? Or what do you think if I do this? Or how can I explain what I did? And he trumped it by a couple times. That is pretty cool.
Q. Just got to ask, Draymond, the previous largest donation from an athlete here was Magic Johnson, $3 million last year. So is this you and Magic starting to one-up each other at this point now?
DRAYMOND GREEN: I hope so. I hope so.
COACH IZZO: That gift isn't just here. I tried to look Nationwide, and I had trouble coming up with more. You might know that, you're the research nut, Mark, but if there is anybody out there in the country. I mean, I think he's -- I think they'll figure it out on the positive side. So we're lucky.
You know what, I will say this: Enjoy him. Enjoy him. There's not a million guys like him. Enjoy him, appreciate him, and thank him because this isn't going to stop with the money. I mean, he is Michigan State's, one of our best recruiters. That means students, that means basketball, hockey, and football and tennis and volleyball, and women's basketball. I mean, he is our recruiter, and I don't see that changing.
I worry a little bit because he was in a campaign this summer where they had him everywhere in the world, but you know what? Ended up back here right before he goes to his big-time things. He's got Travis Walton kind of with him, bringing him along so that he can work him out. It's his home.
And you know what, Day-Day, I think as long as everybody here with our board, our president, our AD, myself, it will be home until we're dead. It will still be home, so enjoy.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports