Mike Green was inducted into the Real Harlem Basketball Player Hall of Fame on Aug. 12. (Micha Green/ The Washington Informer)
Mike Green was inducted into the Real Harlem Basketball Player Hall of Fame on Aug. 12. (Micha Green/ The Washington Informer)

For many athletes, practicing and playing their games is not just a means of burning calories, it’s a way to pursue a passion, learn life lessons, and earn tickets towards success in and beyond the sport – and such ideals ring true for many of the inductees into the 2023 Real Harlem Basketball Players Hall of Fame.

“[Basketball] helped them go to college. It helped them get through high school. It helped them get scholarships. It helped keep them on the right path. It taught them brotherhood, sisterhood, leadership,” said New York State Sen. Cordell Cleare (D), at the 2023 induction ceremony at Salem United Methodist Church in Harlem on Aug. 12. “[Basketball] gave them Harlem love and Harlem inspiration. And they turned around and gave it back.”

While many of the honorees began turning heads at New York City-based schools and parks, one inductee said he didn’t get noticed for his basketball prowess until college at St. Paul’s, in Lawrenceville, Virginia.

“My story is a little different… I didn’t play in the Rucker, I’m not all-city, but I found out how good I was when I went to college,” inductee Mike Green, 75, told the audience during the event. 

“My freshman year… I was a starter with four seniors, we were like the fourth best in the CIAA, out of 18 teams, our first time in the championship,” he added, before being briefly interrupted by Gary “Tank” Barnes, founder and CEO of Real Harlem Basketball Players.

“He was a freshman when he murdered Bobby Dandridge,” Barnes told the crowd, influencing Green to tell the 1969 tale of when he scored major points against the NBA legend.

“I dropped 38 points on Bobby Dandridge. He was a senior and his next year he was with the Milwaukee Bucks, and eventually hooked up with Kareem [Abdul-Jabar], and they won an NBA title,” Green shared. “I was a scoring machine.” 

However, after college, despite some tempting opportunities, Green chose not to pursue a professional career, in order to support his then-wife and budding family.  That’s when he stumbled into a career in corrections, starting as a recreation specialist in Lorton, Virginia, and decades later becoming a member, then director of the District of Columbia Board of Parole. 

“Whereas Mike Green had an outstanding career at St. Paul’s college, earning All-CIAA honors. And whereas Mike Green, after St. Paul’s College… went into the Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections, rose up through the ranks, and became the director of the District of Columbia Parole Board. Thank you for your service,” Sen. Cleare read in a proclamation.

While honored to have served as director, Green said leading the now, non-existent D.C. Parole Board was not always easy.

“I moved up to the position of director of the Washington, D.C. Parole Board, during a time when it was being abolished, and merged with the United States Parole Commission, so that was probably my biggest accomplishment,” Green said, explaining that by fusing the District with the federal parole board, he was implementing an act of Congress.  “It was a difficult task, but I enjoyed it.”

Celebrating the 2023 Real Harlem Basketball Players Class 

Other 2023 inductees included: Ed Warner, Vaughn Harper, Kenneth Williamson, Marvin Stevens, Audrey Atkins, Ray Golson, Charles Davis, Harold Kitt, Harvey Young, Charles Yelvelton, Bill Saddler, Laurence Johnson, Sylvester Blye, Bernard McLean, and Luther Green, Mike Green’s older brother, who died in 2006. 

“The thing that’s most different about me than all of y’all, is that I lived with an all-city, an all-American, and with a pro, my whole life,” Green said, talking about his brother, who had a successful high school and college career, and played professionally for such teams as the New York Nets. “You can imagine how much inspiration he gave me.” 

“The first time I ever saw him play… they were yelling, ‘Luther, Luther,’ and the crowd was going wild, and I was like, ‘I want to play this game too,’” Green continued.

Robert “Bob” McCullough, commissioner of Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park and 2021 Real Harlem Basketball Players Hall of Fame inductee, said the 2023 honorees are “a special group.”

“They have been leaders in the Harlem community, and a lot of people are here to pay homage to them, and the great things they have done in our community,” McCullough told the Informer.

Mike Green is the father of WI Managing Editor Micha Green. For more information on Real Harlem Basketball Players or to donate, visit facebook.com/groups/Realharlembasketball

WI Managing Editor Micha Green is a storyteller and actress from Washington, D.C. Micha received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Fordham University, where she majored in Theatre, and a Master’s of Journalism...

Join the Conversation


  1. This is an excellent article to capture the life of growing up in Harlem. Best to all of the awardee’s.

    1. Hello McKinley Rush. Thanks again to you and your wife for attending the induction ceremony.
      Congratulations to all of the other2023 inductees as well. My daughter did an excellent job of reducing portions of the induction ceremony to print. I also want to thank the Board of Directors of the Real Harlem Basketball Players, Inc for inducing me and my brother the late Luther “Sally” Green and to New York State Senator Cordell Cleare for attending and for the awesome Proclamation.

  2. Grew up with Mike Green, had a lot fun growing up in Harlem ,and a lot of great memories. We have a lot to be grateful for.

    1. Hello John “Pippy” Battle. We truly grew up together, as we lived in the same apartment building and were close childhood friends. Indeed, a lot of memories. We absolutely have a lot to be grateful for. Blessings to you and yours my friend.

  3. I played 1 semester with Mike Green at St. Paul’s College in 1971. Mike was a great leader and an awesome basketball player. At that time he was the highest leaper I had ever seen. Glad to read about you and your life after basketball. May God continue to bless.

  4. I played with Mike for one semester at St. Paul’s College in 1971. Mike was a great leader, and player. Mike could literally jump out of the gym, think David Thompson jumping ability. Congratulations Mike, and may God continue to Bless You!

    1. Hello Charles Reed. We played together some 52 years ago. How time flies.It’s been awhile since we’ve seen one another. I think it was at a CIAA Tournament but I don’t remember the exact year. Thanks for the wonderful comments and comparison. I hope all’s well with you and yours. Take care and blessings!

  5. Thank you Micha Green for doing an excellent job covering and documenting the Real Harlem Basketball Players Hall of Fame 2023 Induction Ceremony.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank its Board of Directors for selecting me and my brother for induction. I also want to congratulate my fellow inductees and thank New York State Senator Cordell Cleare for attending and for the much appreciated Proclamation. Finally, thanks to my family and friends who attended or offered congratulations.

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