Asked recently to sum up his professional basketball journey over the past couple of years, Erick Green laughed and replied, “I’ve been all over the place.”
Indeed, the former Millbrook High School and Virginia Tech star is well-traveled. Just in the last four seasons, Green has bounced from Spain to Greece, to Turkey last year and to China earlier this season for a short stint in the Chinese Basketball Association before coming to a buyout agreement with the Fujian Sturgeons in early December. After a brief stint away from the court, Green returned to Spain’s Liga ACB when he signed with Coosur Real Betis in February.
Green doesn’t do much travelling these days. In fact, he rarely leaves his temporary home in Seville, Spain, a city of nearly 700,000 residents that houses Real Betis.
Spain, like much of the world, has been on lockdown since the COVID-19 outbreak became a full-blown pandemic last month. The country declared a state of emergency on March 14, confining residents to their homes, and Liga ACB hasn’t held basketball games since March 8.
As of Thursday morning, Spain had 146,690 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14,555 deaths caused by the new coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization. Both of those figures rank second globally.
“It’s quiet. There’s nobody outside,” Green said Tuesday of life in Spain during the pandemic. “There’s a (9 p.m.) curfew, so if you’re out past that curfew they’ll either arrest you or you’ll pay a huge fine. It’s just been everybody’s honestly in their house and just staying out of the way. You don’t really see nobody on the road or anything like that.”
It’s a difficult situation for Green, who is an ocean away from his family, including his 9-month-old daughter, that is back in the U.S.
“Everybody who knows me, I’m a big family guy, so it’s definitely tough,” Green said. “But we FaceTime every day. And I have a daughter, so it’s hard being away from her and not being able to be there for her during this time. It’s definitely tough.”
Green said most businesses in Spain are closed except for grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and liquor stores. He estimated that 95 percent of his time since the country went on lockdown has been spent alone, though he occasionally ventures out to spend some time with a teammate and his teammate’s wife just to be able to converse with someone else.
“It gets really boring because you’re just by yourself over here. You can only watch so much Netflix and play video games for so long until you drive yourself crazy,” Green said. “Just trying to space it out during the day, take a nap, just be up, you try to FaceTime. And honestly, I picked up new hobbies. I’m starting to get into real estate, starting to think about things after basketball so I can continue to generate more money and have something to look forward to when it’s done.”
Green, who said he hopes to still have seven or eight years left in his basketball career, said it was a “crazy” experience watching competition in Liga ACB come to a standstill last month. Real Betis last played on March 7 – an 84-74 win over BAXI Manresa – and Green said the team had returned to practice as usual after that game before the league shut down basketball operations.
“I was just like ‘wow,’ like everything happened so fast. I didn’t expect it to be this serious. I thought it was just gonna be like a week or two thing and it’ll pass over, but it’s really serious. It just caught all of us off guard. Hopefully we can return to our normal lives soon,” Green said.
“It really came out of the blue,” he added of the halt to basketball games, “because they were talking about letting us still play, that they were just gonna keep the fans out of the gym, we were just gonna play with no fans for the rest of the season. But then I guess it just got even more serious. I mean, I think Spain’s No. 2 right now, so it’s really bad over here.”
Liga ACB initially planned to return to game action on April 24, though the league recently declared that date ineffective. Green said recent talks have suggested a potential return to action in late May or June.
Though his workouts have had to change due to the circumstances, Green said Real Betis holds virtual team workout videos and he has a pool at his home that he uses to try to stay in shape. Green added that his biggest issue has been his diet.
“I’m a bad eater,” he said. “I like to eat candy. I like to eat snacks and stuff like that. I can’t do that right now because of the fact that I can’t run at all if I’m not out there playing and sweating every single day, being in game shape. But just trying to continue to stay strong, continuing to stay in shape, ride my bike and do drills as much as I can.”
Green played four games with Real Betis (8-15) before play was halted, and the team was 3-1 since Green joined. In those four contests, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 21.3 points per game, shot 54.2 percent (32-for-59) from the field and made 9 of 22 3-pointers (40.9 percent).
“I was killing it. I was really playing really well. And we were winning, so everything was looking great, and then this happened,” Green said. “Hopefully when it comes back, I’ll be ready and can pick up where I left off.”