The Syracuse University men's basketball team won a big one Saturday, defeating the Georgetown Hoyas 98-94 in overtime. It was a satisfying win for the team and orange-clad fans, but there was one onlooker in the stands who, while certainly satisfied with the outcome, had to have some feelings of nostalgia as he watched the game.
On several occasions during the game, the ESPN cameras zeroed in on former Orange player, Donte Greene, who at times appeared to have forgotten that he was no longer part of this team. Of course, Greene is no longer part of the team, having left the Orange to go pro at the end of the 2007-08 season. Greene was the 28th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, going to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Greene’s pro career has been anything but glamorous. He bounced from the Grizzlies to the Houston Rockets, ultimately ending up with the Sacramento Kings. On January 10, 2008, he was sent to the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ D-League team where he performed well enough to warrant a recall by the Kings a week later.
Greene’s departure was the source of a great deal of controversy among Syracuse fans, some of whom felt his leaving would have little impact on the team and others seeing the ‘Cuse as being doomed by the loss of his three-point scoring ability. All that aside, the then 20-year-old had just found out he was going to be a father, and most likely, that had some impact on his decision to go pro.
Still, watching Donte watch the Orange Saturday, one couldn’t help but remember SU’s 2008 home victory over the Hoyas. That day, fans stormed the court at the end of the game and the Syracuse newspaper captured photos of a jubilant Greene standing in the middle of a sea of fans at what might well have been the most memorable moment of his short college career.
Was Greene remembering that moment as he watched the Orange victory Saturday? Did he have any “what if” thoughts in the heat of the game? Of course there’s no way of knowing what was going on in his head, but human nature being what it is, it’s certainly possible there was a moment or two when he wished he could be back on the court.
Former Orange great, Pearl Washington, who left SU after his junior year, once said that watching his team make it to the NCAA final game the next season gave him a case of the “what ifs.” Perhaps Greene had that moment Saturday.