A.C. Green Has Big Message Behind Christmas Book

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Former Suns forward A.C. Green has a Christmas gift for everyone that can appeal to anyone. It includes elves for holiday purists, basketball for hoops addicts, and an overriding moral to satisfy the parents’ desire for substance over style.

Such is the diverse nature of Green’s latest endeavor: a children’s eBook he co-wrote with Robert Skead titled Elves Can’t Dunk, available in the Nook Bookstore, Apple iBookstore and Kindle store. The work includes a video presentation embedded in the story, while purchases will help fund the A.C. Green Youth Foundation (more information can be found at www.robertskead.com).

The story features an easygoing storyline of an elf, employed at Santa’s Workshop, whose main ambition is to simply throw it down on the hardcourt.

“Use sports applications, analogies and metaphors to help kids, guys and girls both, to understand that if you want to be the most valuable person on the team, that’s the [person] who can do the most things.”

— A.C. Green

It seems charming enough, but Green revealed there’s a point to the Christmas tale: chasing your passion while being prepared for and okay with it not working out.

“I think that was a point that was sort of driven home by my parents,” he said. “The fact that you try to find your passion and really work hard to discover what that is. At the same time, you’re not always right in the sense of your ways are on the only way. It may be right for you, but it doesn’t have to be right for everybody. They always encouraged me to keep trying to do things, but at the same time were like, ‘don’t be good at just one thing.’”

Suns fans can appreciate Green’s message of versatility. The former NBA forward averaged 10.6 points and 7.7 rebounds in four seasons with Phoenix, where he spent time at both the forward and center spots. Green made his mark as a dangerous complimentary player alongside the likes of Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson, often cleaning up missed shots for putbacks or placing himself in open spots on the floor for easy buckets.

While Green is respected for his longevity in the NBA, he cited the fear of the unplanned that sets in as young people reach high school and head into college. He pointed not only to the fun sports bring into people’s lives, but also the parallels to life coaches and parents can draw from them and teach to children.

“For me, parents need to drive that message home in that elementary school time frame, especially those that are involved teaching sports,” he said. “Use sports applications, analogies and metaphors to help kids, guys and girls both, to understand that if you want to be the most valuable person on the team, that’s the [person] who can do the most things. Left hand, right hand. If you can kill with either hand in volleyball, pinch hit in baseball, play multiple positions in football, go all day long in soccer. Whatever it is, you just want to create a greater value for yourself. I think it’s the same thing in that you have to be able to do more than one thing [in life].”

Green empathizes with the antagonist of his story. He considers himself a late-bloomer in basketball. At 5-foot-10, he could barely touch the rim as a freshman in high school. He measured 6-3 the following year, but could only manage to grab the rim and then dunking tennis balls. Another year and two inches later, he was finally able to force a basketball over and into the rim.

“It’s a crazy, crazy high. Exhilarating high,” he said. “It’s better than jumping in that pool for the first time on a hundred-degree day.” Yet Green admits that a substantial career in the NBA didn’t seem like a real possibility until the end of high school. After being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, he said his initial goal was to “try and make the team.”

The versatile forward did much more than that, of course, setting an NBA record for consecutive games played (1,192), which spanned from Nov. 19, 1986, to April 18, 2001.

Throughout his career, Green saw other players exhibit the same lesson he sees in his book. A lighter example are the players he acknowledges as the best non-highlight guys in the game, including Larry Bird, John Stockton and Tim Duncan.

No example stood out more for him, however, than Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who was forced to adjust to life without basketball after being diagnosed with HIV.

“Earvin, he’s a model for life for me and other people who are out of sports,” Green said. “You think you’ve got a career path chosen and then you’ve got to go to option B.”

That, he says, is the lesson hidden behind the story of an elf who can’t dunk.

“Education is always the key for me,” Green said. “It’s a great foundation for so many things you want to do when you’re trying to discover in the world ‘what can I do?’”