Anthony Green remembers the first time he met Anthony Green.
No, it wasn’t in some self awareness class. It wasn’t a glance in a mirror. It was definitely not a father and son or even a close relative.
It was simply one kid named Anthony Green introducing himself to another kid named Anthony Green. The two basketball players, both from Jersey City, didn’t realize at the time in 2007 that they shared the same name.
“I knew him from playing basketball at Audubon Park and Bayside Park,” said Anthony D. Green, a graduate of Snyder High School. “I was with a lot of my friends, but I didn’t pay attention to his name.”
“I remembered him,” said Anthony J. Green, a graduate of Marist. “But I never knew his name.”
Anthony D. Green, better known by his initials “A.G.,” to keep things straight between the two Greens, went on to play basketball at Snyder and was a fine player for the Tigers.
Anthony J. Green, who is more recognized now as “Tone,” did not play high school basketball. At a young age, “Tone” was diagnosed with a heart condition and never received medical clearance to play. So the two Anthony Greens never crossed paths on the hardwood during their high school days.
In 2009, both of the Anthony Greens decided to attend Felician College in Rutherford on their own. A.G. received a basketball scholarship, while Tone enrolled on his own.
“The school isn’t so close to home, but it’s also not too far,” Tone Green said. “I got accepted here and was given some aid through the EOF [Education Opportunity Fund]. I liked the campus and the people here were welcoming and helped me to get around the school.”
But after being a student for almost two seasons, Tone wanted to give basketball a try. He had finally received medical clearance to play, as his heart ailments were being closely monitored. Tone also had knee surgery during his sophomore year at Felician, which set back his plans of trying to make the team as a walk-on. But Tone approached Felician men’s basketball coach David DeFerrari two years ago, asking permission to try out for the team.
“When you’re looking for a walk-on, you want someone who is unselfish, who works hard, who is willing to learn,” said DeFerrari, a native and long-time resident of Secaucus and former basketball player for the Patriots. “Tone really embodied all of those things. He worked hard in every drill. He’s the lone walk-on who has actually made the team.”
“Coach DeFerrari was very understanding,” Tone said. “He let me try out and I didn’t really expect him to let me try. But I made the team. I was happy to be a part of the team.”
When practices began, Tone recognized the kid from the Jersey City parks.
“It was really funny when I realized we had the same name,” A.G. said.
“I didn’t know he had the same name until that point,” Tone said.
And sure enough, Felician College had two kids from the same hometown with the same name.
“I thought it was pretty wild when Tone tried out and we had another Anthony Green on the team,” A.G. said.
“Jersey City is a big city,” DeFerrari said. “But what are the odds of having two kids named Anthony Green to show up at the same school at the same time? We have a small campus, so that should narrow it down a little. It’s pretty amazing.”
Both Anthony Greens are senior members of the Golden Falcons, who tip off the 2012-2013 season on Tuesday, Nov. 13 against Queens College. A.G. is a guard and one of the team’s top returning scorers, having averaged 10 points per game last year. Tone is a reserve forward who played quite a bit last season, averaging 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest.
“Tone started some games [11 in all] last year,” DeFerrari said. “He just keeps improving and working hard. He got his opportunity and didn’t let go. He earned the respect of the coaching staff and now he’s fit in and he’s part of the family. Tone embodies everything you want in a student/athlete. He earned his spot. He’s everything that’s right in collegiate sports.”
DeFerrari did not recruit A.G. In fact, A.G. was recruited by the former Felician head coach Del Harrison, one of the all-time best players to ever come out of Jersey City State College, now known as New Jersey City University.
“We saw the potential in A.G. right away, as soon as we got here,” said DeFerrari, who begins his fourth season at Felician this fall. “He also has steadily improved and grown. He’s always looking for the chance to better himself and that’s impressive.”
DeFerrari, a Hudson County guy, likes the attitude that the two Jersey City kids bring to his team.
“They both work hard and now both are key components to our team,” DeFerrari said. “I think a lot of that comes from where they come from. You have to work hard to be a basketball player from Jersey City.”
A.G. Green is a communication major at Felician. He wants to pursue a career in either sports broadcasting or acting when he graduates.
“I think acting is cool,” he said.
Tone Green is an accounting major and on track to graduate from Felician in May. He gives a lot of credit to his teammate namesake.
“I honestly learned a lot from him,” Tone said. “Since he was already on the team, he helped me understand what I should and shouldn’t do. He helped me in more ways than he even knows.”
And now, the two Anthony Greens are close friends.
“We hang out together and do a lot of things together,” Tone said. “He’s a good friend.”
They also have fun when they go to the school cafeteria.
“We get the cafeteria lady mad, because we switch ID cards,” Tone said. “We’re having laughs out of that.”
Both think that being from Jersey City has helped them succeed at Felician.
“I’ve played ball with guys who are now dead,” A.G. said. “A lot of others don’t get this chance. I never want to be the one who takes it for granted. I think of the ones who didn’t make it, who didn’t get the opportunity that I have. That pushes me even harder. And I’m proud to have Tone here with me.”
DeFerrari said that he first addressed Tone as “the other Anthony Green.”
“The first week or so, I didn’t know what to call him,” DeFerrari said. “The public address announcer calls one Anthony D. Green [A.G.] and the other Anthony J. Green [Tone]. I didn’t know how I would differentiate in practice. But he’s worked out. Tone is not just the other Anthony Green anymore. He’s just Tone.
Added DeFerrari, “They’re both a pleasure to coach. I care very deeply for both of these guys and if I didn’t care for them, they wouldn’t be here. They’re both going to get their degrees. They are both from the streets of Jersey City. I’m going to know them for the rest of my life.”
And there’s no question that having two Anthony Greens are better than just one. The name’s the same, so is the hometown, so is that relentless desire to excel and achieve.
“I came in with a ring [winning the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship] and I expect to leave with a ring,” A.G. Green said.
“I never had the chance to be on a championship team anywhere,” Tone Green said. “I’m doing my best to contribute.”
There was one question that needed to be answered. Who’s the better Anthony Green?
“I think it’s even,” A.G. Green said.
“He got it,” Tone Green said. “Who’s he kidding?”
Certainly not anyone else, except perhaps that cafeteria lady.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.