“What does Kawhi think of the trade?”
“Did his relationship with the San Antonio Spurs really sour?”
“Did the Spurs veterans actually put him on blast in a team meeting leading to this?”
These were queries that could only be answered by speculation – unless you were actually in the room when the Leonard-Spurs drama was going down.
Danny Green, the other piece heading back to the Toronto Raptors from that July 18 mega-deal, has been a teammate of Leonard’s since the two-time defensive player of the year first entered the NBA in 2011, so he knows Leonard and that Spurs locker room about as well as anybody.
As such, when Green surprised just about everyone with a brand new podcast he’s working on and debuted with immediate details on how the trade went down, it made quite the impression.
Called “Inside the Green Room with Danny Green,” the podcast is only three episodes deep (at the time of this post) and features Green alongside co-host Harrison Sanford as the two discuss happenings around the NBA and some of Green’s exploits as a professional basketball player.
Sportsnet recently got the chance to catch up with Sanford to discuss his and Green’s relationship, how the podcast got started and what’s in store for the future of the pod.
Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Sportsnet: First of all, how did you and Green first meet? Listening to the podcast suggests the two of you have been buddies for a while.
Harrison Sanford: Danny and I actually had a mutual friend in high school. I went to a school called Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Long Island, N.Y., which actually has the top player in the New York right now, [one of the top guys] in the country, playing for them. So in my junior year a person who ended up being a mutual friend came to the school and I got to know Danny through the mutual friend.
I was part of the newspaper club at my school and we used to read a magazine called School Sport Magazine and it just basically featured all the high schools in the area and they had a contest for anybody in high school. The essay contest was to write an article or essay about how globalization is helping the NBA. So I wrote the essay and I ended up winning, and winning that contest gave me media correspondence press credentials at the 2003 NBA Draft. So my dad bought me a suit and I went to the 2003 NBA Draft – which was obviously the LeBron [James], [Carmelo Anthony], Dwyane Wade draft – as a member of the media.
So, from there I started working for a website called NYHoops.com and I would go around the city writing articles about the best players and best teams in New York City and Long Island and I would often write about Danny’s team because I believed St. Mary’s, at the time, was one of the top teams in the country so I continued to get to know Danny through that realm.
SN: How did you two first decide you wanted to do a podcast?
HS: When Danny won the national title [with North Carolina] in 2009 I actually went down to Chapel Hill to celebrate with him and then I saw him again in Houston [when he was working there for Comcast Sportsnet].
I saw him at a Rockets game and we hung out after, I also went down to San Antonio to watch him play against the [New York] Knicks and hang out at his house, and when I was in Albany, Ga., [working at another television station] for that year and a half I didn’t see him because there’s no reason why Danny would be in Albany, Ga.
So when I was in Ohio [working at Spectrum Sports Columbus], when [the Spurs] would play the [Cleveland Cavaliers] I would go up and he would see me every now and again and so I broached the subject with him because I knew he was interested in journalism and broadcasting when he was done, so I said, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this podcast” and it took a while to confirm that we were gonna do it.
SN: The timing of your debut episode was pretty good given everything that went down just before it went live, were you guys planning on launching when you did?
HS: I believe it was the Thursday that he got traded – or, actually, the week before he got traded – we had a conversation over the phone and the plan was I was gonna fly to New York and we were going to tape a pilot episode. Just an episode where we can get familiar with each other in a podcast format, things of that nature.
Then that Thursday he got traded I texted him and I said, “Hey, I don’t know what your feelings are at all and was wondering if you still want to do the podcast.” And he was like, “Yeah, sure. I definitely want to do it.”
And then I told him, because he just got traded, it’s in our best interests to skip the whole making a pilot plan. Let’s do the real thing. Like the actual podcast itself. And he was like, “Yeah, sure.”
SN: So the trade ended up accelerating your timeline?
HS: It was supposed to be a dry run just because at that time that we decided to do it he was still on the Spurs. I mean there were things we could talk about, but there wasn’t enough to talk about that I thought was worth launching and putting out to the whole country to begin the brand.
It was just going to be a soft launch for us that we could go back and listen to it and work on things but it became, “No, we’ve gotta do this for real.”
So it went from pilot to the real thing. Once that trade happened that’s when the decision was made.
SN: How are you guys going to move forward with the podcast when the season gets going, proper?
HS: I think we’re going to continue to do the podcast during the season. More than likely we’ll operate on a bi-weekly schedule.
There’s potentially some exciting things coming up on that end in terms of format, in terms of how it’s presented to the public. I can’t say anything officially yet so I’ve gotta keep quiet on that but there’s some major shifts that could be happening with the podcast in a good way in the near future.
In terms of topics, [it’ll be the] same topics. We’ll continue to talk about basketball and what’s happening with the Raptors and the state of basketball, in general. And then it’s always my mission, and my favourite parts – and from my understanding, the listeners’ favourite parts – to continue to unveil some of these stories that Danny has from his time with the Cavaliers or with the Spurs.
Whether it’s something about LeBron or [Shaquille O’Neal], or something about Tim Duncan or [Gregg] Popovich or whatever might be happening with the Raptors. We’ll continue to unveil those insider stories on the podcast.
SN: Since neither he nor Leonard have actually officially been introduced to the Toronto media yet, are the stories Green’s telling about Leonard on the podcast cool with Raptors?
HS: I would assume by now there would be a problem, or they would’ve reached out to us to let us know if there was a problem. I don’t see any conflict in terms of Danny offering any insight into Kawhi.
When he was with the Spurs he was with a team who went to him a lot for media. Because Tim Duncan doesn’t speak too much or Kawhi doesn’t speak too much and LaMarcus Aldridge, for the most part, is a quiet person as well when it comes to speaking to the media. So Danny has had so many reps in terms of speaking with the media, being comfortable with the media and knowing what to say, being honest and yet still upholding team media standards. So he’s pretty savvy in that sense.
SN: Lastly, there are a lot of podcasts out there with current and inactive players from across different sports. What makes your podcast stand out from the pack?
HS: I think the story of the podcast is very unique because I look at other podcasts in this realm and not all the podcasts – or at least the ones that I listen to – the chemistry, obviously it’s there, but the connections are being fostered probably in the professional portion of each person’s careers. Whereas I’ve known Danny since I was trying to be a sports broadcaster and he’s known me since he was trying to be a professional basketball player. So I think our story is unique in that sense.