Lakers We Miss: A.C. Green

Jeff Skibiski —  September 1, 2010

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Led by Magic Johnson and a venerable cast of stars and role players, the Showtime Lakers left an indelible stamp in NBA history books. Though his game lacked the same flash as some of his teammates, A.C. Green’s timeless work ethic consistently provided a spark during both of his stints with the Lakers. More than anything, Green regularly reminded fans and other NBA players how fortunate they were to play basketball for a living.

For A.C., playing in the NBA for 17 seasons was just as much about the love of the game as it was about simply showing up for work and collecting a hard-earned paycheck. That is exactly what the NBA’s ultimate iron man did, playing in a league record 1,192 consecutive games. To put that staggering number into perspective, Kobe Bryant—widely considered one of the NBA’s great warriors today—amassed a streak of 235 consecutive games played that ended earlier this year.

Green hardly watched the clock while he was “on duty,” as he was a pivotal role player on three championships squads (1987, 1988 and 2000). In fact, he led the Lakers in rebounding in six of the nine years he played for the team, boosting his career averages to 7.4 boards and almost 10 points per game. His play was rewarded through selections on the 1990 All-Star team and the 1989 All-Defensive Second Team.

While many fans remember the unselfish forward for his deep religious beliefs off the court, A.C. was also a devout and loyal teammate who was willing to do whatever it took to help his team. Green’s even-tempered attitude was hardly representative of his on-court play though, where his tenacious defense and all-out commitment served as his bread and butter. A.C. was crafty player who was fundamentally sound on both offense and defense, always boxing out in the most advantageous spot or ready to nail a baseline jumper.

In many ways, experienced, savvy veteran role players like Green have become some of the most coveted players in today’s NBA. In the same way that Derek Fisher’s contributions have been instrumental to the past five Lakers titles, championship teams need players like A.C. to fill in the holes around their stars, to remind them that winning takes a whole lot of hard work too.

Jeff Skibiski

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20 responses to Lakers We Miss: A.C. Green

  1. Shout out to A.C. Green. Certainly he may well be most remembered for the willpower he showed on and off the court. (And if half of what you read is true, the 80’s Lakers were positively swimming in groupies, so that’s no mean feat.)

    A.C. may have been the least heralded starter for the 87 and 88 championship teams, but he was a consistent performer, a hard worker, and a guy you wanted on your team. Of all the Lakers on the 2000 championship squad, AC was by far the guy I was happiest for to see get a ring – and this is a guy who already was a big part of 2 other champions.

  2. Salute and respect. Nothing more, nothing less. I am sure it is how A.C. wants it.

    BTW, what does A.C. stand for?

  3. Sorry about the repeat post but edit did not work on my machine for some reason.

    Did his streak only counting regular season games or playoff games as well?

  4. I thought that one reason for AC’s success as a Laker was because AC was mentored by Kurt Rambis. Or at the very least AC was able to watch Kurt forge out a successful career by putting on a hard hat.

    I have a fondness for players that the Lakers draft as rookies and mold into players that fit the Lakers offense. There is something very rewarding to me as a fan, to watch a player’s confidence grow as they gain playing time.

  5. A.C. doesn’t stand for anything – his name’s just the initials.

    A.C. used to destroy UCLA when he was the star at Oregon State. He was a talented, talented college basketball player who was smart enough to see his key to a long, productive professional career meant embracing the “Rambis” role with the Showtime team.

  6. 2, obviously this is unofficial, but AC used to say it stood for ‘Abstinence Committed’ Green.

    God, it hurts even to type those words…

  7. MWL20,

    Found this on wikipedia:

    “On his homepage, he states that the initials in his name do not stand for anything. His given name is simply “A. C.”, similar to the case of fellow basketball star K. C. Jones.”

    Also found this interesting:

    “Green suffered from singultus, or chronic hiccups, during his NBA career, the hiccups only stopping when Green was running or working out. Reportedly, Green never slept more than two hours at a time due to the condition. He has since recovered.”

  8. Of course I enjoyed watching acgreen hustle his butt off with the Lakers during his first tour of duty. I was and am still mad at the way he chose to leave the team. When the ShowTime Lakers were winding down, w/ Kareem gone & Worthy leaving…Green was the senior leader due for a new contract. He left the Lakers for the Suns stating he “wanted to win another championship”. Of course the suns never got one and ac returned years later. But he should have been part of the Laker rebuilding too. While in Phx he “set” the all time ironman record…but that was set cheaply. He played just a few SECONDS in 2 (or 3) games w/ a broken nose. Cheap way to get the ironman…which is for playing, not just stepping on the court for a second or two. Just sayin….

  9. eh, AC probably got sick of turning down the basketball groupies in L.A., so he decided to instead turn down the cougars in Scottsdale, Arizona.

  10. Caracter’s going to wear the #45 jersey.

    Should AC’s jersey be retired though?

  11. Does anyone else remember the list of All Star Power Forwards from the West that used to abuse AC Green on a nightly basis in 2000?

    Tim Duncan, Cliff Robinson, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Antwan Jamison, Shareeff Abdur Rahim, Dirk Nowitski, Karl Malone, are among the West Power Forwards that used to salivate at the thought of being guarded by AC Green in 2000, knowing that they would usually be putting up numbers well above their averages.

    No disrespect to AC, because he is a true professional and did his best to contribute to the 2000 Championship season, which I thank him for. He was just over matched in the twilight of his career, especially because Phil is so reluctant to double team.

    BTW when Horry came in off the bench, he wasn’t able to hold these guys in check any better than AC did. There was just a long list of quality forwards in the West that year.

    Also @ Bobji: Green’s jersey should not be retired. If the Lakers retired every role player that won some rings, there would not be enough room in the rafters at Staples.

  12. 10.

    The Lakers will likely never retire AC’s number unless they change their policy on the matter. Right now, the Lakers only retire the numbers from Lakers greats that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    He was a great player though and I hope that maybe in the near future the Lakers will have a fan appreciation night and invite a championship team from the past to make an appearance! That way we can honor some of those great role players who will never be enshrined.

  13. I think we should retire Green’s jersey. And of course do the same for Cooper, and Fox, and Fisher, and Devon George, and Ron Harper. Any below average to average player that was lucky enough to play on great Laker teams. In defense of Green and Cooper they were good players in their primes though. Just not great players… and the Lakers have a habit of putting up great players in the rafters.

    We are the way the Lakers honor role players on championship teams. Without us these guys would be remembered as mostly what they were… below average starting players. Instead they are revered for ages and ages. So keep it up Laker Nation.

  14. One amazing thing about the Showtime era was the way the Lakers were able to improve their starting 5 midway through the run. Nixon/Wilkes/Rambis were all great players and huge contributors to titles, but Scott/Worthy/Green was an upgrade at every position.

    Of course, it helped to have Kareem and Magic anchoring the changes in the starting lineup…

  15. 13, you’re wrong about Coop… and they should retire his jersey.

  16. 15. Coop and AC green are not in the same conversation as the Lakers greats who have already had their numbers retired. They’re fantastic players and great people, but including them with this honor would only lessen the magnitude of the honor itself.

  17. I’m fine with the current Laker policy of only retiring the numbers of Hall of Famers, including Shaq of course by and by. I mean, there are only so many numbers out there; we don’t want future Lakers to have to wear triple digits on their uniforms. I wonder how the Yankees handle this (good to have) problem?

  18. The Yankees handle it by being a baseball team, mostly. Basketball (Pau, Bynum, etc. notwithstanding) traditionally has avoided numbers that end with 6, 7, 8 and 9; and rarely goes over 55. Baseball has no such traditional soft restrictions.

  19. man, i miss the days listening to chick calling out a.c.’s name.