A.C. Green was the Iron Man with the Iron Will

A.C. Green was the Iron Man with the Iron Will

Basketball great A.C. Green is best known for two things. One is his ironman record of playing in 1,192 consecutive games spanning 16 seasons. The other is inevitable, if a little disrespectfully, also called an endurance record — remaining a virgin until he married earlier this year at the age of 38.

Cal Ripken is revered for playing 2,632 straight baseball games, but Green’s record is nearly as remarkable. For more than 14 NBA seasons, he endured nightly punishment as a rugged power forward, yet never missed a game for any reason. Green is better known for being a self-proclaimed virgin throughout his career, another record that probably won’t be broken.

The Lakers were, in the words of guard Byron Scott, “bigger than rock stars.” So in 1985, when team general manager Jerry West used the Lakers’ first-round pick to draft forward A.C. Green, he knew there was going to be a culture clash. Or perhaps West, in his infinite wisdom, felt Green might calm the magic johnson down. You see, Green was a born-again Christian—and a virgin. He was so chaste that, during his sophomore year at Oregon State University, he organized a school-wide protest after spotting a copy of Playboy being sold at the student bookstore despite the fact that, inside its pages, they’d named him one of their “All-Americans.”

For years, Green has been an active campaigner for sexual abstinence — and he practiced what he preached. He recently celebrated his six-month wedding anniversary.

Green was the most durable player in NBA history—the league’s Iron Man. He didn’t miss a game from Nov. 19, 1986, all the way to his final game on April 18, 2001, for a total of 1,192 consecutive games played. And he accomplished it all as a virgin; his A.C. Green Youth Foundation promoted abstinence until marriage.

“I am curious [about sex],” Green told Sports Illustrated in 1997. “But not curious enough to go to the violation point. I figure God created it, so it must be good. But he has created it to take place at a certain point of time—within the confines of marriage. If I’m going to live according to rules God laid out, then there are rules A through Z. There can’t be situational ethics.”

“It is definitely worth waiting,” Green told Good Morning America in 2002, just after celebrating his six-month wedding anniversary. “When you marry the right person at the right time you have no regrets. For me, I have nothing but smiles on my face.”