Willie Green talks to Phoenix players during a huddle in the 2021 postseason

Willie Green receives praise from around NBA after becoming New Orleans head coach

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Upon being named new head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans this week, Willie Green gained an entire new fan base of supporters in the Crescent City. But it’s clear he already had a large contingent of backers across the NBA, as evidenced by the reaction around the league to the Green hire.

Among the 540-plus quote tweets that stemmed from the official announcement Thursday by @PelicansNBA, numerous comments came from players of various backgrounds.

“This right here is everything!” wrote Golden State All-Star guard Stephen Curry, whom Green coached for three seasons as a Warriors assistant.

“Great hire! Going to have great success in NOLA!” tweeted former New Orleans forward Quincy Pondexter.

“Great hire,” echoed retired NBA center Matt Geiger, a Green ex-teammate in Philadelphia.

“BRIGHT future,” wrote Shaun Livingston, a key reserve for Golden State’s title teams last decade.

Although Green wasn’t officially hired until Thursday – two days after the conclusion of the NBA Finals between Milwaukee and Phoenix – there had been reports for weeks that Green was poised to take over in New Orleans. As a result, coaches and players previously responded in glowing terms to the idea that Green was set to become a first-time NBA head coach. Phoenix Suns coaches and players were particularly complimentary of Green, who joined Monty Williams’ staff as an assistant coach in 2019-20.

“I know he deserves it,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “He’ll be the most humble, prepared coach you’ve ever seen in your life… I’m unbelievably happy for the opportunity that he may get.”

“Just excited for him first, his family,” guard Devin Booker said. “We’ve been through a lot these last two years of spending a lot of time together. We’ve developed a relationship, and I respect him to the fullest. New Orleans is going to get a really good guy on their hands that’s taking control and leading that group.”

“Fantastic person and a great coach,” second-year Phoenix wing Cam Johnson said. “Willie, I’ve seen him run practices … I’ve looked at him and said, ‘This guy going to be a head coach very soon,’ and that became obviously apparent that he has that capability, that he’s going to succeed at that role whenever the opportunity comes.”

Williams, who was Green’s head coach in New Orleans during the 2010-11 season, expressed his excitement for his assistant to move into the head-coaching ranks.

“Any time you have guys on your staff or guys on your team get promoted, it’s important to celebrate that stuff,” Williams said during the NBA Finals. “Willie is one of my best friends. I’ve coached him. I’ve played with him. He was a rookie, I was his vet (with Philadelphia in 2003-04).

“If all of this is official and he moves forward, I’m happy and I’m unbelievably sad about it because he’s just a huge part of my life. He’s been a big, big part of our program.”

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