McALLEN — When Samantha Salinas discovered the date of her scoliosis surgery in June, she wasn’t worried about her condition after it.
Her concern was that it was a day before the San Antonio Spurs played in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
“I didn’t want to miss the game,” Salinas said. “When I woke up, I wasn’t worried about anything else besides watching the game.”
Salinas, 14, was one of hundreds that showed up Tuesday at Academy Sports + Outdoors for a meet-and-greet with Spurs guard Danny Green.
After the operation, Salinas, an Alamo native, saw the Spurs defeat the Miami Heat 113-77 where Green went off for a game-high 27 points.
Because of her back condition, Salinas special-ordered a No.4. Spurs jersey (Green’s number), which Green signed, along with a picture taken of her with the jersey over her in her hospital bed.
“I had never been to a game so this was very exciting,” Salinas said. “I’m happy he came.”
Green, who set an NBA Finals record by hitting 27 3-pointers, traveled across the state, holding autograph sessions and basketball camps. He stopped in Weslaco earlier in the day.
“It’s mainly for the underprivileged kids,” said Green, who averaged 14 points, four rebounds and shott 55 percent from 3 during the Finals. ”We didn’t get a chance to do the camp here, but next year I’m looking forward to get it done. This also gives opportunities to meet and greet fans and kids get to learn fundamentals of basketball.”
Pharr native Karina Gaona, 20, was first in line, waiting more than two hours. She said she came down from Texas State once she heard Green was visiting the Rio Grande Valley.
“I called Academy just to verify, and I was first in line,” Gaona said. “I love basketball, but I recently became a Spurs and wanted to see Danny Green in person.”
Green said these clinics were done at his request, not the Spurs’. Green came off relative obscurity after his Game 3 performance. Now it’s a whole different experience for him, one shared with Valley fans.
“My life has changed a lot after the Finals,” Green said. “I got national exposure. I’ve had a chance to travel the world and meet fans because I played in the finals.”
The turnout was a success, according to Green, which gave him a chance to give back to the large Spurs fanbase in the Valley.
“It’s a good turnout. I’m excited,” he said. “Seeing how the fans are here it’s crazy. I love the support and it’s a great opportunity to build a bigger fan base here and in Mexico.”