Michigan State basketball legend Johnny Green dies at 89
Michigan State basketball legend Johnny Green, who led the Spartans to their first-ever Final Four in 1957, passed away at 89.
Michigan State University is mourning the loss of one of its most legendary basketball players, Johnny Green, who passed away at the age of 89. Known as "Jumpin' Johnny Green," he was a key player in leading the Spartans to their first-ever Final Four in 1957, leaving an indelible mark on the program.
Green's exceptional rebounding skills earned him the nickname "Jumpin' Johnny Green," and he is one of only 10 Michigan State players to have his number retired by the program. His impact on the court was undeniable, as he became one of the most revered players in the history of Michigan State basketball.
After serving in the Marines during the Korean War, Green played for Michigan State from 1955-59 and is one of only three Spartan men to reach 1,000 career points and rebounds, alongside Draymond Green and Greg Kelser.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo expressed his sadness at the passing of Johnny Green, highlighting his significant contributions to the program. Izzo emphasized Green's status as one of the greatest players to ever don the Michigan State uniform, praising his All-American status, exceptional rebounding abilities, and leadership on the 1957 Final Four Team. In addition to his collegiate success, Green was also a first-round pick of the New York Knicks, where he became a four-time NBA All-Star and solidified his place as one of the best rebounders in the history of the team.
Beyond his athletic achievements, Green was remembered as an exceptional person, known for his kindness and humility. His impact on the Michigan State basketball program extended beyond the court, as he was a source of inspiration for both players and coaches.
Hailing from Dayton, Ohio, Green's accolades as an All-American in his final two years at Michigan State solidified his place in the program's history. His impressive statistics, including averaging 18.5 points and 16.6 rebounds in his senior year, solidified his status as a consensus second-team All-American.
To honor his remarkable ability to secure rebounds, Michigan State's annual award for the team's top rebounder is named the Jumpin' Johnny Green Chairman of the Boards Award. Green's legacy at Michigan State is further solidified by his ranking as 47th all-time in scoring and third all-time in rebounding, with 1,062 points and 1,036 rebounds.
Following his collegiate career, Green was drafted sixth overall by the New York Knicks in the 1959 NBA draft. He went on to have a successful 14-year NBA career, during which he was a four-time All-Star and maintained an average of 11.6 points and 8.6 rebounds over 1,057 NBA games.
The impact of Johnny Green on Michigan State basketball and the broader basketball community is immeasurable, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of athletes.