Johnny Green

John M. “Jumpin’ Johnny” Green (born December 8, 1933) is a retired American professional basketball player.

Green’s career rebounding average was 16.4 per game, topped in Big Ten history by only hall-of-famer Jerry Lucas’ 17.2. He remains third on the Spartans’ all-time career rebounding list with 1,036 – in less than three seasons. He also averaged 16.9 points per game, scoring 1,062 overall.

He was also named first-team All-Big Ten for three years and was named Big Ten MVP in 1958–59.

Michigan State named an annual rebounding award in Green’s honor.[6] His jersey number 24 was retired by Michigan State. He was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.

Green was a first-round draft pick (fifth overall) in the 1959 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.

In his rookie season of 1959–60 for the Knicks, during which he turned age 26, he played nearly 18 minutes per game, averaging 7.0 points and 7.8 rebounds. On February 26, 1960, against the Philadelphia Warriors, he set a Knicks rookie record that still stands with 25 rebounds.

His playing time increased in 1960–61, when he averaged 10.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. He was a full-time starter in 1961-62, averaging 15.9 points and 13.3 rebounds, leading the team in rebounds with 1,066,[9] and he was named to the NBA All-Star Game. In February 1962, he set Knicks team record with three consecutive games of 20 or more rebounds (since tied by Walt Bellamy, Willis Reed and Tyson Chandler).

In 1962–63 his scoring average was a career-high 18.1 along with 12.1 rebounds per game, and he again led the Knicks with 964 rebounds. He was named an NBA All-Star for the second time.

Green’s playing time dipped slightly in 1963–64, but he still averaged 14.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game including a season-high 27 points on November 16, 1963 against the Cincinnati Royals.[10] He also led the Knicks in rebounding for a third consecutive season with 799.

In 1964–65, he averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds and was named an NBA all-star for the third time.[8] He had a season-high 33 points on December 30, 1964 against the San Francisco Warriors.[11]

In 1965–66, his seventh with the Knicks, after seven games he was traded to the Baltimore Bullets. For the season, he averaged 11.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and his .536 field goal percentage ranked second in the league. In 1966–67 with the Bullets, in a part-time role he averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds.

On May 1, 1967, he was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the NBA expansion draft. During the 1967–68 season, he played in 42 games for the Rockets, averaging over 25 minutes per game. On January 11, 1968, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, for whom he played 35 games in a reduced role, averaging just over 10 minutes per game. For the season, he averaged 13.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.[8]

In 1968–69, during which he turned 35 years old, he again averaged just over 10 minutes per game with the 76ers, averaging a career-low 4.7 points and 4.5 points per game. After the season, he was released by the 76ers.

However, just when it appeared Green’s NBA career might be over after 10 seasons, in September 1969 he called Cincinnati Royals coach Bob Cousy and asked for a tryout. He signed as a free agent with the Royals and had a career resurgence in the 1969–70 season. He became a starter for the Royals, averaging 15.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at .559. He had a season-high 32 points on March 11, 1970, against the Boston Celtics and averaged 23.5 points per game over the final seven games.

The resurgence continued in 1970–71 – at age 37, he again led the NBA in field goal percentage at .587, averaging 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game – and he was named an NBA all-star for the fourth time in his career. On December 20, 1970, he had one of his best-ever games, scoring a career-high 39 points in a one-point double-overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons.

There wasn’t much fall-off in 1971–72. Although he turned 38, he played in all 82 games, averaging 9.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

The following season, 1972–73, the Royals franchise relocated and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. But despite turning 39, he remained a significant contributor, playing nearly 19 minutes per game and averaging 7.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. It was his final NBA season.


Career highlights and awards
4× NBA All-Star (1962, 1963, 1965, 1971)
Consensus second-team All-American (1959)
No. 24 retired by Michigan State