When the Houston Rockets selected G-League Ignite star Jalen Green with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the team’s fanbase was ecstatic. Houston realized that it would receive a 19-year-old guard with superstar potential and Green quickly discovered that he would the support of an entire city behind him.
The 6-foot-6 shooting guard wouldn’t have any other way. In fact, he’s actually thrilled that he landed in Houston and not in Detroit.
The Pistons, who held the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took Oklahoma State star point guard Cade Cunningham, which allowed Green to slip to second for the Rockets. The 19-year-old Fresno native had only worked out for Detroit and Houston in the pre-draft process, so it was basically a foregone conclusion that he would land on one of the two teams.
But in an exclusive interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Green claimed that he never wanted to be in Detroit with the Pistons.
“I wanted to be the No. 1 pick, but as for the location, I didn’t want to be in Detroit,” Green told Haynes. “I felt a lot more comfortable in Houston. It felt like a real homie environment. With Detroit, it felt like I was just going back to the G League bubble, and I just got out of the bubble. That’s pretty much what it was.
“In the [G League] bubble, I didn’t really have anything to do but just stay in the gym. I didn’t have any time to get away for myself. The only time I had to get away for myself was in my apartment. That’s what it felt like in Detroit. I wouldn’t be stepping outside in Detroit. There are not many things you can do in Detroit like that. You’re going to stay in the gym and then go back to your apartment.”
A @YahooSports exclusive with Houston Rockets rookie @JalenGreen on his Fresno upbringing, how he overcame and how the city produces a mighty chip from being overlooked: “I wanted to be the No. 1 pick, but as for location, I didn't want to be in Detroit.” https://t.co/JSC4AZ2wn9
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 16, 2021
Detroits locals weren’t too happy to hear the No. 2 overall pick blast their hometown, especially since he told GQ three weeks ago, before the draft, that he wanted to live there. While some acknowledged that Green was likely just trying to drum up support from his new city in Houston, others saw his comments as disrespectful and wondered how he’d be received in his first game against the Pistons in Little Caesars Arena.
I swear people that have never spent any time in Detroit LOVE thinking they know what there is to do, or not do, in Detroit. This dude might get booed every time he plays at LCA. https://t.co/KVqfF418t4 pic.twitter.com/nqCWwYI9lU
— Jamal Spencer (@JamalSpencerTV) August 16, 2021
That first Pistons-Rockets game is going to be insane https://t.co/Hmmc0nJrWg
— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) August 16, 2021
Detroit gotta respond 😂 https://t.co/zTASEmJuSH
— Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1) August 16, 2021
A story about how people don't understand or appreciate your hometown where you prove you don't understand or appreciate Detroit. I don't blame Green for not getting it. He wasn't in town long enough to get it. https://t.co/3Dx0uuAmMo
— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) August 16, 2021
Pretty much every 2nd overall pick has a reaction like this. We don’t need to freak out over the quote https://t.co/zMeoKuyJqT
— Mark Schindler (@MSchindlerNBA) August 16, 2021
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) August 16, 2021
Houston played Detroit in Summer League this past week and won comfortably 111-91, with Green leading all scorers with 25 points. Cunningham finished with just 20 points, which gives the Rockets rookie bragging rights for the time being.
The NBA’s 2020-21 regular season schedule hasn’t been released just yet but fans are already hoping for a Rockets-Pistons matchup that will feature Green and Cunningham going toe-to-toe. If that game takes place in Detroit, the Houston rookie should be ready to answer for his comments about the city.