LET'S PLAY a little word association. A.C. Green: All-Star? Well, yes, the 6'9" power forward did make one All-Star team in his 16-year NBA career. Iron man? That fits too. Green holds the league record for consecutive games, playing in 1,192 straight from 1986 to 2001. Champion? Also accurate. Green won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, in 1987, 1988 and 2000. But for many people, what springs to mind when Green's name comes up is a word not often associated with pro athletes: virgin. A bachelor throughout his playing days, Green was famous for his commitment to remaining celibate until he married. "I love that people remember me for that," says Green. "I took a stand, and I was a voice for a generation. I'm proud of that."
Abstinence wasn't always easy. On those freewheeling Showtime teams in L.A., says Green, "You could have anything you wanted, whenever you wanted it." And his teammates didn't exactly make things easier for him. During Green's rookie season, 1985--86, several Lakers started a pool to see who could make the kid compromise his principles. "It got up to about $600," says teammate Michael Cooper. One player even sent, as Cooper recalls, "one of the best-looking women you will ever see" to Green's hotel room during one road trip. "We really thought we got him," says Cooper. "But he came downstairs the next morning with a big smile on his face and told us he was going to have to start quoting the Bible to us. We gave him grief, but it was all good-natured. We had a lot of respect for his decision."
These days Green, who married in 2002, continues to preach celibacy. He runs the A.C. Green Youth Foundation of Rolling Hills, Calif., which works to inform kids about sexual abstinence and social issues. Green also consults for the Christian Flower Network, a company based in Santa Ana, Calif., that creates custom-designed Christian-themed floral arrangements for delivery nationwide. "I love what I'm doing," says Green, 44. "And it's important work. I want kids to see that there is more to life than chasing skirts."
PETER READ MILLER
DEFLOWERED Green, a Showtime star in '88, is a peddler of petals these days.
PETER READ MILLER