Long before Royce White had a fear of flying, there was a certain Boston Celtics' draft pick who was impacted the same way.  Did you know the 8th overall draft pick in the 1963 season never played a minute in the pros?  And it had nothing to do with his ability.

Bill Green, a 6-foot-6 forward, was Colorado State University’s first consensus All-American in basketball and is still considered by many to be the greatest player in school history. After graduating in 1963, Green was selected by the Boston Celtics in the first round – the No. 8 overall selection. No other CSU player has been drafted as high.

While playing at CSU, Green had developed an intense fear of flying. 
"One time we were on our way back from Utah," Green remembered, "and the plane was definitely out of control. Baggage was falling out at the back of the plane. People had started praying, everyone was panicked. I decided it was time to be concerned. Then I got stuck in a rainstorm over Mississippi. After that, I just couldn't deal with it."   

The Celtics had tried to convince Green to work through his fear during the 1963–64 preseason. He participated in Celtics' training camp, even coming to blows with Jim LoscutoffBut professional help did not work.  Coach Red Auerbach even allowed him to take a train out to St. Louis, Missouri for a preseason game on the condition that Green flew back after the game.  When it came time to go home, he could not step on the plane. Green later said, 
"The fear just built to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. I made up my mind: I wouldn't do it. Auerbach told me to go work on it [the fear] and come back later."

He never returned.

Green, who was also drafted by both the Boston Red Sox and the Dallas Cowboys, quit the Celtics right before the regular season began and never returned to attempt professional basketball (or any other professional sport), knowing that in order to play, he would have to get over his fear of flying, which was something he could not do.

Realizing that any future as a professional athlete was out of the question, Green earned a master's degree from Brooklyn College.  He taught in several New York City public schools afterward, and then in 1971 (just like Clarence Glover) became the principal of Jordan L. Mott School in the South Bronx.  The school, an extremely dangerous and under-performing one, greatly turned around with Green's direction.  
"When I got there," he said, "the school was in total chaos. The principal had left, simply walked off the job and never came back. They asked me if I wanted the job. I said yes.  The conditions frightened me. " 

Jordan L Mott School

Green didn't like to talk about those early days, preferring to stress the more positive situation that existed after he rehabilitated the school's image  Gangs such as the Savage Skulls, the Ghetto Brothers and the Young Saigons roamed his school's corridors.  Green remembered breaking up a knife fight in the gym and trying to convince the teenager with the knife that his future should include more than what was out on the street.
He enacted strict rules that made students earn certain grades and reach specified numbers of "class points" to be able to even attend the school's basketball games, let alone play in them. Green also created an atmosphere of intellectual competition whereby different classes within each grade would compete against one another—literally sitting desk-to-desk—and earn points for their class based on the outcomes.   He would then post the school's weekly updated class and grade rankings in the hallways, which the students would intently follow.  His methods, although unconventional, worked, and even though Jordan L. Mott School was pulling its students from two of the poorest performing elementary schools in New York City, most students were in the top 11% of all city public schools in terms of their reading level by the time they left Mott (after 8th grade). 

He would be recognized with several honors on his behalf for the excellent work he did.

Green died on March 15, 1994 at age 53 of a heart attack.  Very little details exist online about his death regarding an obituary or where he is buried.

Bill would've been another in a long list of "Greens," including Sihugo, Rickey, Gerald, Orien (with an "E" at the end of his) and Jeff to play for the Celtics.

And how good was he?  Was he a better version of Satch Sanders?  Some folks argued it.  Does that mean it would've been possible that Green stuck around beyond the 1969 title over LA and perhaps even served as the elder statesman for the 1973 bunch that won 68 games?   One can only speculate.

All I know is that Bill Green almost played for the Celtics. And now, you know that too. 

tb727 3/31/2015 11:10:00 PM Edit
« Prev Post Next Post »

More Celtics News via Bleacher Report

More Celtics Life Features

Click here for Celtics videos.

Click here for Celtics wallpapers.


comments powered by Disqus