Why coming 'home' and reconnecting with Australia is so important for Josh Green

Green on 2023 Boomers: Faster-paced with weapons everywhere (1:48)

Boomers wing Josh Green sees this squad as more versatile than previous groups, with Josh Giddey surrounded by athletic talent throughout the team. (1:48)

Josh Green arrived in Australia almost a month before the Boomers' pre-World Cup training camp was scheduled to begin, earlier than the vast majority of his U.S.-based teammates.

The 22-year-old brought over his brother, best friend, and a trainer, and set up shop around Sydney's eastern suburbs. "There's no better way to prepare for playing for Australia, than preparing for that in Australia," Green told ESPN.

The primary goal was, of course, to get his body and game ready for another major international campaign with the Boomers, but there was another element to the decision to head over so early. Green was born and raised in Sydney, but left in 2015 to attend high school in the U.S., when he was just 14 years of age. He played high school basketball, then did his one-and-done college year at Arizona, before getting drafted; there was no real opportunity to return to Australia before 2022, when he was finally able to return to his home country.

He fell back in love with it: the lifestyle, the coffee, the people, the beaches, all of it.

"It's just one of those things: being back home," Green said.

"Being over in America every year, I've been over there for so long... you become accustomed to being over there. For me, it's making sure that I'm a part of being back where I'm from at home, and being able to give back to the community.

"At the end of the day, I'm from western Sydney and I want to stick to that. My goal is to be able to live here in the offseasons."

During this trip, Green made the most of his time. He visited his old primary school in the Hills District, showed his American guests around Bondi, had multiple appearances around Sydney, and held a sold out camp at Cranbrook School, hosted by the NBA Basketball School Australia.

Green has personal experiences that guide how important it is for him to give back to his community. He hearkened back to an appearance Andrew Bogut had in the Sydney city six or seven years ago. Green and his brother, Jay, woke up at the break of dawn and did the hour drive just to see the then Golden State Warriors big-man in person.

"It's moments like that, that made me love basketball," Green said.

"To think that there's another kid out there that would wanna be able to meet me or just be around me, I think it's important for me to be able to give back. Especially from where I come from, too, around the Hills District area, being able to go back to my old primary school, being able to see kids.

"And, being able to see how advanced basketball's become here. When I left, it wasn't the biggest sport. Now, it's become a big sport and it's cool being able to see kids recognise you and whatnot. It's a surreal feeling. I always wanna come back here and be able to give back."

Green's reconnection with Australia only strengthened while playing for the Boomers at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He knew, at just 20, that he was likely to not get significant minutes, if any -- and was in the midst of what he called a "make or break" off-season -- but those he idolised growing up led to his sentiment of representing Australia being a priority.

He says he saw Tim Cahill's achievements in the green and gold and immediately wanted to be a Socceroo. Any time he'd watch an Olympics, Green would want to compete for Australia in track and field. The significance of representing Australia was always at the front of mind, but it was bolstered by a bronze medal-winning Olympic campaign.

"I've always been proud to be Australian and always represented Australia, but it's different when you go to the Olympics," Green said.

"It's a whole other level. You realise how much the country really means to you. You're literally putting your uniform on for your country and you're going to battle. I'm so competitive, you have so much pride for it.

"Even [a few weeks ago], I went to a Wallabies game. [Whenever] I watch the Matildas play. To think that I wear the green and gold for another sport, it's one of the coolest feelings ever."

This time around, the expectation is that Green will move on from being just a bit-part member of the Boomers, to a full-blown impact player and potential starter. The 6'6 guard is coming off a career season with the Dallas Mavericks -- averaging 9.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game, while shooting 40.2 percent from beyond the arc -- and is entering his second Boomers campaign while a potential rookie scale extension lurks in the background.

The expectation is that there will be a significant extension offer from the Mavericks at some point in this offseason, but it's something Green is attempting to place at the back of his mindset for the time being.

"Honestly, I haven't really put too much thought into it," Green said of a potential extension.

"I've really just focused on this. Whatever happens kind of happens. Obviously, it's a cool feeling to be in that situation but, at the same time, I put so much work to be able to be in this position now, that you wanna continue to work. I hope it happens. I want to be in Dallas. I love Dallas. I love the fanbase, love the guys. To think I could be in Dallas long-term would be amazing."

Green is also entering this World Cup campaign -- which takes place in three Asian countries from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 -- at the forefront of the stylistic shift the Australian national team is in the midst of: the introduction of multiple long, athletic wings who are versatile defensively and can play in transition. It's a style of play Brian Goorjian is preparing to lean into in a significant way, and will be buoyed by the likes of Green, Matisse Thybulle, and Dyson Daniels, complemented by the perimeter skillsets of Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, and guided by the team's point guard of the present and future, Josh Giddey.

"Looking past in Boomers rosters, I think we're a lot more versatile," Green said.

"We have a lot more guys who can run up and down the court. We have multiple ball-handlers who can bring the ball up. I think we're gonna play a more faster paced game than what we're probably used to playing, Boomers wise.

"Faster pace means a lot more stuff. We'll play in transition, it's more fun to play; more fun to watch. It's a winning style of game. Everyone's unselfish. For me, it's coming in and being able to bring the same intensity. I don't want to lose so I'm gonna be competitive, play the same way I do in the NBA. I think we're gonna be a very defensive-minded team, and I think we have a lot of great players to be able to really go on a good run."