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Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (Saginaw/MSU) says he’s excited about the growth of Detroit and to play downtown at Little Caesars Arena on Friday vs. Pistons. Recorded Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press

Draymond Green’s memories were stirred when the Golden State Warriors’ team bus rolled up to Calihan Hall in northwest Detroit.

He was a sophomore at Saginaw High, facing the Detroit Pershing Doughboys — led by senior forward and future Michigan player DeShawn Sims — during the 2005-06 season.

Saginaw got the win that night, Green gleefully remembered early Thursday afternoon.

“It definitely brought back memories,” Green said after the Warriors’ Thursday practice, with Detroit Mercy students looking on in the background.

“It was a great memory. I got the win.”

That game isn’t the only moment that brought a smile to Green’s face as he returned to his home state.

The Warriors star won two state titles as a prep star at Saginaw, then went on to many glorious times during a four-year stint at Michigan State.

Another Michigan moment will come Friday night when the defending champion Warriors face the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena for the first time.

It’s the only visit this season for one of the NBA’s premier franchises — since they play in the Western Conference — where Green has developed into an All-Star and one of the league’s top two-way players.

But it all began in Saginaw.

“He’s more excited than I am to come back here,” said Warriors assistant coach Willie Green, who has his own memories of Calihan Hall, where he was a star for UDM.

“That’s what I told him when we walked in. He played high school games here at Saginaw and he and I go back and forth each other and give each other crap all the time, about him being from Saginaw and me being from Detroit, who has the better players, but ultimately it’s all family. We’re both excited to come back in here and in this building.”

Green said the smile hit his face the moment the Warriors’ plane touched down in the Detroit area.

And he’s looking forward to showing how Detroit exceeds its often-negative reputation.

 “I’m even more excited this year because growing up in the state of Michigan, Detroit’s the big city, but you’ve heard so many negative things all the years and you would listen to guys going, ‘We gotta go to Detroit.’

“Now they actually get to see Detroit. With the growth going on downtown, I’ve been so excited for guys to come and see Detroit.”

Green is nursing a sore right shoulder that forced him to miss Wednesday night’s game at Charlotte, but went through practice. He is listed as questionable, but he sounded like a player intent on giving it a go.

He also took a couple of Michigan State questions. He expects the MSU basketball team to win a national title. And he has a bet with teammate — and former Washington State star — Klay Thompson for the Holiday Bowl between the Spartans and the Cougars.

Then he was asked about family and friends who will need tickets.

He said he has cut the guest list down to immediate family; he’s referring friends to StubHub.

He also spoke of his charitable efforts in Detroit and Saginaw, appreciating what the Pistons’ move downtown symbolizes for the inner city.

“I obviously spent a lot of time in Auburn Hills and Birmingham, but to come down to the city of Detroit is great,” Green said. “I’m actually excited. All the guys are like, ‘I’ve never been to Detroit.’ Everybody’s been to Birmingham, so it’s great for all the guys to get a chance to see Detroit. The growth. To be here to be a part of this is amazing.”

Follow Vince Ellis on Twitter @vincent_ellis56.