There was once a time that Lynn Greer thought he might spend his college days in Amherst as a UMass Minuteman or in Los Angeles as a USC Trojan.
In 1996, Greer was a sought-after prospect from Philadelphia’s Engineering & Science High School, a top-rated magnet school located on the periphery of Temple’s campus and just a couple of blocks from McGonigle Hall.
“Growing up in Philadelphia, and this was before the social media age, Temple was the biggest thing in Philadelphia,” Greer said.
Greer had grown up going to Temple games with his father, Lynn Sr., watching former Owls greats like Mark Macon and Marc Jackson. During his junior and senior years in high school, he would often make the short walk to campus to hang out with his friends on the team in Rasheed Brokenborough and Julian Dunkley.
“We didn’t have to use any recruiting money,” John Chaney, the legendary former Owls coach said with a chuckle. “We just walked on to the school to see him play.”
Recruiting Greer was one of the best decisions Chaney ever made. Monday night, the left-handed sharp shooter who played the game with remarkable poise and precision will be formally inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame at The Palestra, the site of some of the best moments of Greer’s college career. One of just four Owls players to score more than 2,000 points in his career, Monday’s moment will cap a memorable stretch that also saw him get inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame back in September.
In addition to talking to Chaney and Greer himself, OwlScoop.com caught up with many of Greer’s former teammates, coaches and mentors -- including David Hawkins, Kevin Lyde, and former Temple assistant Nate Blackwell -- to tell a story that includes stops at venues like the Spectrum, in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, and overseas destinations like Athens and Istanbul.
THE CONVERSATION THAT KEPT HIM HOME
Despite many factors seemingly favoring Temple, choosing to play in college on North Broad was not exactly a guarantee in Greer’s mind, at least in the earlier stages of his recruitment.
Lynn and his father Lynn Sr., a former Philly hoops star himself, were concerned with the potential logjam in Temple’s backcourt. The Owls’ guards at the time included not only Brokenborough, a three-year starter, but also sophomores Quincy Wadley, Pepe Sanchez and Malik Moore. The opportunities of playing time were limited, considering Chaney regularly played his starting guards close to 40 minutes per game.
However, a conversation with the late Claude Gross, a longtime coach and mentor in the Sonny Hill League and a pillar of the Philadelphia basketball community, convinced Greer that staying close to home was the best option.
“He was like, ‘The only thing I can say is if you go to USC or UMass and you're not playing, you're not going to have any fan support, any fan base, that's going to be able to speak up for you and say that kid should be playing,’” Greer recalled. “‘You’ve done too many things here in Philly, that if you're not playing or Coach Chaney’s not playing you, you have thousands of people who saw you play in high school, who saw you score 30-40 points, that are going to advocate for you.’”
“That was one of the things that really sold me,” Greer added, “to stay home in your hometown and to be able to play in front of your family and friends and know that they got your back at all times even if things aren’t going well.”
After that conversation, Greer’s recruiting picture became a lot more clear, and he committed to the Owls in the fall of 1996.
“I get credit for recruiting him, but basically he recruited us,” longtime Temple assistant Nate Blackwell said. “He walked into our office one day with his father and said, ‘Hey, I want to come to Temple.’ I mean when a kid that good says he wants to come, I don't care how good you are already, you accept it.”
As a senior, Greer led the city in scoring and in the process became the third all-time leading scorer in Philadelphia history at the time, behind Wilt Chamberlain and one-time Owl Jonathan Haynes. He was named the City’s Player of the Year by the Daily News, as well as the Pennsylvania Big School Player of the Year by the Associated Press.
Chaney remembered how thrilled he was to add Greer to his program as both a student and as a player.
“The school was academically sound, and so was Lynn. His skills would qualify him for not only leadership as a point guard, but leadership as a prolific scorer,” Chaney said. “He was someone that really, really caught me eye from the standpoint of intelligence, basketball wit and wisdom and of course his overall talent. You don’t find it anywhere in the country.”
“He was the All-American kid. It's almost too good to be true, the kind of kid he was,” Blackwell said. “We need more Lynn Greers in the world.”
Greer was able to carve out a niche in the second half of his freshman season in 1997-98 as the team’s designated three-point specialist. On the campaign, he shot .472 from distance, which remains the single-season record for highest three-point percentage in Temple basketball history. Greer averaged 7.9 points per game, a strong figure considering he didn’t receive consistent minutes until after Atlantic-10 play had started.
THE TURNING POINT
In his mind, everything began to click for Greer after a thrilling 68-62 overtime win in the Palestra against Big 5 rival Saint Joseph’s in January of 1998. In that game, Greer saw the floor a handful of times, but was taken out after just a minute or two in each instance.
A despondent Greer walked past Chaney on the way to his seat, but the head coach said nothing. He then approached Blackwell, a star for Temple and Chaney in the 1980’s, and asked him why Chaney had taken him out.
“Nate was like, ‘Because you’re not shooting the ball.’ He was like, ‘You’re a shooter. You’ve got to shoot the ball.’ So from that day forward every time I got in, i just shot it,” Greer said. “I saw how Pepe would play. I saw that Pepe was playing 40 minutes, so I’m like, I’ve got to play like Pepe in order to get Coach’s respect and play minutes that he plays. So I was going outside of myself and trying to be a passer.”
“I saw he was very upset. I remember that,” Blackwell said. “I tried to explain to him, you get recruited or you get drafted because of what you do -- your history. And Lynn has a history of being a scorer. So he comes in and he's trying to be a do it all point guard. Well, we had a do it all point guard -- it was Pepe Sanchez.”
Both agreed that the conversation was impactful on the rest of his career.
“Had Nate never said that to me, I would’ve been lost a little bit, or maybe it would’ve taken me longer to figure it out,” Greer said.
The next season, Greer got off to a strong start, with one small exception. In a game against Penn in November, Greer started in place for an injured Sanchez, and had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds of regulation at the free throw line with Temple down by one. Greer made the first, but missed the second, and the Quakers eventually pulled off the upset in overtime.
“I was ready to pack the bags up and go home,” Chaney said, “and he missed the foul shot. He was upset about that and I said to him, ‘Don’t you worry about that, because you’re gonna have plenty more chances in your life to miss more shots.’”
The very next game, Greer was lost for season after Penn State’s Calvin Booth accidentally elbowed him while boxing out for a rebound, shattering the 6-foot-1 guard’s orbital bone. Temple advanced to the Elite Eight that season, a tough experience for Greer since he couldn’t even practice with his teammates in any capacity due to the nature of the injury.
Starting with his redshirt sophomore season, though, Greer’s career finally took off, cementing himself as one of those all-time Temple greats he had grown up watching.
Chaney and Blackwell praised Greer, crediting his success because of his positive attitude and coachability.
“His personality was one in which he wanted to learn,” Chaney noted.
“He would always [ask] what could he have done different? What could he have done more? I’ve never heard him put the blame on someone else or question someone else’s judgement. He would always say what should I have done? And that’s the kind of kid he is. That right there sums up Lynn Greer as a person,” Blackwell said.
In February of his third season, the Owls, then ranked 15th in the nation, traveled to Cincinnati to take on the top-ranked Bearcats for a nationally televised game on ABC. Cincy, led by All-American center Kenyon Martin, came into the game 24-1 on the year and boasted a 42-game home winning streak.
Greer helped propel the Owls to the 77-69 upset win, as he poured in 15 points in just 18 minutes of action. He shot a perfect 5 of 5 mark from beyond the arc in the first half, including one from what Blackwell called “Steph Curry range.”
“That was the sort of thing where the team had been building for so long that we just had at least 10 good players and somehow we were still an underdog going into the season and we just proved everybody wrong,” Greer said of the 1999-2000 team. “We just thought highly of ourselves so it wasn't like a shock going in there. We played that zone and after the first five minutes, we can tell if the team is going to be able to play with us or not, because that zone trips you up so much.”
Temple easily won both the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament crowns, as Greer was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 12.3 points per game. They finished that season with a 27-6 record and ranked 5th in the country in the final AP poll, though the Owls were unceremoniously bounced in the second round by Seton Hall on a day that still lives in infamy among Owls fans. Temple, as the No. 2 seed in the East Region, looked loaded enough to be the team that would finally get Chaney to a Final Four, but a backup point guard named Ty Shine dropped 26 over the Owls’ matchup zone and vaulted the 10th-seeded Pirates to a big upset win.
The next season, Greer shifted into the starting point guard position and found consistent individual success. He led the country in minutes per game with 39.6 and averaged a team-high 18.2 points per game. His accolades included first team All-Big 5, first team All-Atlantic 10, and he was named to the All-Defense team in the A-10.
After a quick 4-0 start, Temple was mired in a seven-game losing streak, as the team was having a tough time replacing three departed starters in Sanchez, Mark Karcher and Lamont Barnes.
“About one-third of the season had gone by and we were kind of unhappy with what the team was doing and we weren’t playing all that well,” Blackwell recalled. “Coach Chaney says, ‘I’m thinking about making a change. We’re going to put Quincy at the point and Lynn at the 2.’ And me and [assistant coach Dan Leibovitz], we just like looked at each other [and said] ‘No, Coach. Lynn is not the problem. We need Lynn to have the ball.’ And for the first time maybe in his career, [Coach Chaney] listened to us.”
Temple never found enough consistency, finished the regular season 15-12, and was in danger of heading to the NIT for the first time since 1988-89 unless it won the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The Owls handled Dayton in their first game and faced off against George Washington in their semifinal matchup. The Owls trailed by as much as 10 in the final minutes, but clawed back to within two points heading into their final possession.
With 2.9 seconds to go, Greer pump-faked and drew a foul call as he went up for a three-point shot, much to the dismay of an incredulous Tom Penders, who was then George Washington’s coach.
“Well, it was crazy because the Spectrum was packed and when I got fouled and went to the free throw line, I didn't hear one word. It was just silence, straight silence,” Greer noted.
“All I was thinking in my head was just make the first one, because if you make the first one, then you still can make or miss the second and third,” he added. “And so, I just remember shooting it, and I couldn't tell if it was going in or not. Then when it went in I was like, phew, at least the first one is down and then that made the second and the third so much easier because the only pressure I had after that was to make just one more and that was huge.”
Even though Greer felt the pressure in that situation, he didn’t show it at all, according to ex-Owls big man and Greer’s longtime roommate, Kevin Lyde.
“He told me coming out of the huddle that we were gonna win this game,” Lyde said.
The Owls went on to win the Atlantic 10 tournament, with Greer picking up the A-10 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award. And though they were probably not an at-large tournament team in 2001 had they not won it, the Owls ultimately went on one of the greatest NCAA Tournament runs in school history. Greer averaged more than 20 points per game in four tournament games, as Temple defeated Texas, Florida and Penn State in succession, each by double digits, before falling to Michigan State in Chaney’s fifth and final Elite Eight.
“He just was in what we call the zone,” former Temple star David Hawkins said. “He was shooting the ball great. It seemed like he was just making all the right plays and the thing was, the defense knew that they had to stop him, yet still they couldn't stop him.”
Greer’s play throughout the season earned him respect from his Hall of Fame coach, as the coach built his multiguard offense with Greer and Wadley as the primary options.
“[Lynn] was our star player. He was our star shooter, he was our star leader by deed. But he’d get on the floor and here the players respected him and they'd pass to him. They looked for him. They set up screens for him,” Chaney said. “He became our lead scorer, not only a scorer but he was a shooter. And he proved it game in and game out. In the last two or three minutes, who's going to get the ball? When it comes to close out a game? Lynn. [And] if he gets fouled, he's going to make fouls shots.”
That summer, Greer was named to the US team in the World University Games in Beijing. Still, Greer did not become complacent and continued to work on his game. He had transformed from just a shooter as a freshman into a complete player as an upperclassman -- a scorer from all three levels with an array of moves and a typical John Chaney ball handler who did not turn the ball over. He also became an all-conference defender despite his relatively small stature and average athleticism, excelling at the top of or as the baseline rover in Chaney’s various matchup zone schemes.
“I watched a thousand guys over the years,” Blackwell said. “All the great ones had the same type progressions. I watched [former La Salle legend] Lionel Simmons when [he] came into La Salle. Every year Lionel Simmons added something new to his game. Another dimension. And that’s how Lynn was. Every year, he developed something else.”
Though not making the tournament as a senior was, according to Greer, the most disappointing part of his Temple career, the season was full of memorable moments, a season that remains one of the most memorable for an individual in Temple’s history.
Part way through the 2001-02 campaign, Greer led the country in scoring, and had two games with at least 40 points -- 47 against Wisconsin and 43 against Fordham. Both totals still rank third and fourth in Owls single-game history. Greer also had four other 30-plus-point games that year.
Greer’s performance in Temple’s overtime win at Wisconsin was arguably the greatest for an Owl player since the 1950s, coming against the Badgers notoriously-tough defense that tried many different looks schematically in order to stop him. Greer also remembers it as one of the strangest in his career.
“We had shootaround that morning and that Kohl Center was huge,” Greer recalled. “It was freezing in there and every shot I took [in shootaround] I was missing and I'm like, man, it's going to be a rough night. So then the game comes and so I'm taking shots that I feel like aren't going in, and they were going in. It was just one of those games where I felt like I could get any shot I wanted.”
Two nights later, the Owls traveled to Durham to take on the defending champs in top-ranked Duke. The Owls lost handily, but in Chaney’s mind, the Blue Devils gave Greer the ultimate compliment.
“They ended up putting two guys on Lynn as soon as the ball was taken out [from] full court,” Chaney said, “and I called timeout. I said, Wait a minute, what’s going on here?
“I said to Mike [Krzyzewski], Mike why are you putting these two people on my little boy? He said, ‘Well, you’ve got to understand. He scored 50 last night, he ain’t gonna score 50 tonight,” Chaney added with a laugh. “Any time Duke puts two people on you, you must be something special.”
Greer also saved his finest Big 5 showings for his last. In the first game against St. Joe’s, a 10-point win for Temple, Greer poured in 34 while going 18-18 from the free-throw line, a Temple record. The second game against the Hawks, a nationally-televised tilt on ABC in front of a packed-to-the-corners, sellout crowd at the Palestra, turned into of the all-time classic games in the history of the City Series.
Lyde remembered the usually low-key Greer engaging in some trash talk with St. Joe’s star Marvin O’Connor throughout the contest.
“It was just an intense game. Both Marvin wanted to beat Lynn and Lynn wanted to beat Marvin,” Lyde said.
Temple fell behind early, 41-25 at the half, but clawed back to take a momentary lead on a Greer three before relinquishing the lead again. With the Owls down three with just three seconds to go, Greer sank another long-range shot to tie the game at 67, this one an off-balance heave. He created just enough space between him and Hawks defensive specialist Tyrone Barley to get the shot off and sent the game into overtime.
The game eventually went into a second OT, and with the game tied at 84 with 1.2 ticks left, Greer provided another signature moment. He pivoted, stumbled, nearly lost the ball, took a 15-foot baseline jumper and got fouled by Barley for an and-one. Greer, as close to automatic from the line as it got, hit the free throw, and the Owls came away with an 87-84 win.
“Well, any Big 5 game was huge and I had been playing in those games for years. So the Big 5 games just had a whole different feeling to them whether the team [we played] was good or bad,” Greer said. “It was looking it was going to be a blow out. We stuck with it, the zone continued to work, they started to miss shots we started to make shots and it ended up being a memorable, one of the most memorable games of my career.
Despite the second straight late-season run, Temple missed the tournament, and Greer’s college career came to an abrupt halt at Louisville during the Second Round of the NIT.
“They were mopping up the floor,” Chaney recalled, “and so we had to say to Lynn, ‘Do not go to that side of that floor,’ because we don't want anybody to get hurt.”
In the last few minutes of the game, Greer slipped, sustaining a high-ankle sprain in the process.
Temple came out on top and eventually advanced to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals and third-place game. However, the Owls coach withheld his star senior from all the team’s games after he suffered the injury, much to Greer’s dismay.
“His father and the kid were saying to me they wanted to play, but I wasn't going to ruin that kid’s life,” Chaney said. “I would not want anybody to question my judgement in thinking about the welfare. A life in two parts, the quantity of life or the quality of life. Which is more important? Would it be the quality of the life be more important than the quantity? That's what it boils down to. I would not risk playing. I don't care what it was, for the championship of the world, I would not risk the life.”
Overall, Greer led the nation in minutes for the second straight year (39.7 mpg.) and averaged 23.2 points per game, good for sixth in the country and the fifth-highest single-season average in school history. For his efforts, he was named the recipient of the Geasey Trophy as the Big 5’s Most Outstanding Player, and was an honorable mention for the AP All-American team. He was also named first team All-Big 5, first team All-Atlantic 10 and to the A-10 All-Defensive team once again.
He graduated from Temple with 2,099 points, which remains second all-time in the program’s history. He also holds the career records for most games played in a Cherry and White uniform (137), free throw percentage (.852), and ranks among the best in several other categories, including three pointers, three point percentage and assists.
Greer, who majored in business administration with a focus in marketing and law, left a big mark not just on the record books, but also on his former teammates.
“Lynn was probably the best teammate I ever had, on and off the court. Just a good guy to be around, a guy that always kept you positive in the game, always kept your head in a positive space,” Lyde said.
“I remember being a freshman and being a sophomore, just coming up under him, just having his leadership on the floor. How he came into the game and played and how he performed, I looked up to that,” Hawkins added.
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO THE PROS
As he moved on to the professional level, Greer was widely expected to get picked by a team in June’s NBA Draft, likely in the second round. He met with several teams throughout the draft process, including the hometown Sixers. At one point in the pre-draft process, Greer and his father met with then-Sixers coach Larry Brown and former general manager Billy King in the Sixers’ offices.
The Sixers held two picks going into the draft: No. 16 and No. 45.
“This was Larry Brown's own words. He’s like, ‘There’s no way you'll be around by ,’” Greer said. “That’s the one thing that I remember leaving that meeting - no way I’d be around by .”
On draft night, the picks went, but Greer had yet to hear his name called. He felt confident, though, that the Sixers would take him if he dropped to them. Much to his dismay, the Sixers selected USC forward Sam Clancy instead.
“As soon as the Sixers selected [Clancy],” Greer said, “I just walked out of the house. I was like, I ain't getting picked. That was what made it heartbreaking, because I was kind of sold on the fact that I wouldn't be around that long.”
Afterward, Greer took some time to reflect in order to comprehend why he went undrafted. Despite a knack for scoring the ball and solid defensive play, his lack of size and lack of high-level passing ability hurt him in the eyes of NBA scouts.
In addition, Greer’s draft stock was likely hurt by the NBA’s initial mass interest in international players. Fourteen international players were selected, a record at the time.
Going undrafted and having to play in Greece in his first season as a pro was initially not easy. He acknowledged it was particularly emotional whenever he had to go to the airport and say goodbye to his family.
“Deep down inside everybody knew I should’ve playing in the NBA, but I had to do what was best at the time and go overseas,” Greer said.
But his attitude toward an overseas career eventually shifted as time went on and has transformed the initial disappointment into a positive.
“It's just water under the bridge, because honestly, me playing in Europe, taking the route I took and being successful in my own way, it's a great story,” Greer said. “It's something I can use to talk to young guys now, because every kid who plays decent college has dreams to go to the NBA.”
Greer played in the NBA Summer League over the next few seasons, and was one of the Milwaukee Bucks’ final cuts in the 2003 preseason. With aspirations of playing the NBA still in mind, he developed into one of the top players in Europe by his second professional season.
In 2003-04, he led the Polish League and Eurocup in scoring and was second in assists. Two seasons later, Greer led the Italian League in scoring and was named its MVP. He received interest from around the NBA, eventually agreeing to a multi-year deal with the Bucks in the 2006 offseason. He had finally achieved his dream of playing in the league, and he savored every aspect of being in the league.
“To finally get a chance to play in the NBA was just was a great honor and I just loved the whole culture of it- the way we practiced, the way we played, the way we traveled, going from different city-to-city, staying in the best hotels and eating the right way,” Greer said. “They had chefs there after practice cooking for you.”
On the court, Greer was a healthy scratch for the first 33 games of the season. Though he felt he was playing well in practice, he did not receive much playing time during the first half of the season from head coach Terry Stotts. For a player who had always received playing time, sitting on the bench while dressed in a suit was a tough experience.
He did, however, note that one of the most special moments of his career came at home in Philadelphia. Greer estimated he got about 35 or 40 tickets for friends and family to attend the game, and he responded by scoring his first two points of his career at the Wachovia Center in just the second game for which he was active.
Greer did see a rise in playing time from January on and caught a break when Stotts was fired after 64 games. In the final 10 games, Greer averaged 8.1 points per game in slightly more than 21 minutes per game, which was roughly double his season average of 4.1 points in 10.5 minutes per game.
After a strong end to the season, he was all set to come back to Milwaukee for the second year of his contract. Greer had spent a sizeable portion of his offseason in Wisconsin, training with the team during summer workouts. He had moved into a new apartment, and after what he called a rollercoaster first year, finally felt settled in.
He received a call from his agent, Leon Rose, who told him that Greek powerhouse Olympiacos was highly interested in signing him. The two spoke over the phone, and the guard made it clear had zero intention of returning to Europe.
“I played overseas already. I made it where I want to be, I don't want to ever go back overseas again,” Greer said.
Rose kept calling, as Olympiacos continued to up their offer, but Greer was adamant about not leaving the NBA.
“I told Leon, just tell them a crazy number, something we know they can't pay,” Greer said. “That will make them back off and make them go get another player. So we made up a number, and he was like, ‘All right, we’ll try it.’
“I got out of the workout and I have five or six missed calls from Leon. I was like, What's going on here? So I called him back and he was like, They said OK. I was like, ‘What? Are you kidding me?”
Greer requested a two-year contract, which is extremely rare for non-local players in Europe. Since a vast majority of American players only get one year deals, he theorized Olympiacos would surely back off.
“[Rose] called me back in two seconds,” Greer recalled, “and he said, ‘They said OK.’ I was like, Oh, my god, I can't believe this. So now if you look at it, not as the NBA or Europe, if you look at it job number one and job number two, the money wasn’t anywhere close.”
Chaney was shocked when he first heard that Greer was returning to Europe, but understood the move made Greer one of the highest paid players in Europe.
“He said, Coach, money talks and bull---t walks. You always taught us that,” Chaney said.
Greer has given advice to younger players who are reluctant to leave the United States to continue their basketball careers. He understands their plight. After all, he was in their position during his playing days. Oftentimes, agents have called him, asking him to speak to their respective clients.
“They might not like you now but you can still go overseas, make money, travel the world and still have a chance to play in the NBA,” Greer said. “They call me and say, ‘Can you talk to my player? He's scared to go overseas.’ I'm kind of like a mentor to these guys, but if I didn't have that experience, I wouldn’t be able to lead somebody in the right path.”
Today, that mentorship has Greer teaming up with former Temple teammate and current Simon Gratz head coach Lynard Stewart to create the first annual L2 European Exposure Showcase. The event, which will be held over the course of two days in July at McGonigle Hall, is intended to give players the opportunity to showcase their talent to overseas teams. It is open to all players who are looking to find an overseas team, and all professional teams from around the world are allowed to send personnel evaluators.
After his successful two-year stint for Olympiacos, Greer played for some of the top teams in Turkey, Italy, Russia and Ukraine over the next six years. He decided to retire in 2015 after spending another two seasons playing in Turkey.
Greer’s career allowed him to live in some of the most famous locales in Europe, playing for teams in Athens, Naples, Moscow, Milan and Istanbul. His house in Athens was just 20 feet from the Mediterranean Sea.
“I always had a favorite place until a new place came,” he joked.
But out of all the cosmopolitan cities he lived in, one stood out, simply because it offered the most comforts of home.
“Istanbul is so modernized,” Greer said, “and had restaurants like we have here in the states. We had [T.G.I.] Friday’s, we had P.F. Changs, Cinnabon, whatever you needed.”
Greer has visited Istanbul a couple of time since retiring, but has spent most of his time back at home in the Philadelphia area.
AN HONORABLE HOMECOMING
When Greer was inducted into the Temple Hall of Fame this past September, several former Owls showed up to support Greer, including Chaney and Hawkins. Others in attendance included Mark Macon, Marc Jackson, Levan Alston and Mark Tyndale.
Hawkins was actually in Philadelphia visiting Greer for a few days, but was completely unaware that his former teammate was receiving the honor. It wasn’t until the day before that Greer told him.
“For Lynn, it seemed like it wasn’t really a big deal to him, because I didn't even know about it,” Hawkins said. “So I felt more excited for him and for being able to be there, to celebrate that with him. But when he finally got there and got on stage, it was emotional for him.”
Greer was thankful. He has a special place in his heart for his alma mater. The relationships he made because of the university, he said, have been vital, especially since he graduated.
“Temple’s a family,” Greer said. “I spent five years of my life there and met so many people, obviously in the basketball program, but outside of the basketball program. I’ve met even more since I’ve been out of school.”
Then in January, Greer received a surprise call from current Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who gave Greer the news that he was chosen as a member of this year’s Big 5 Hall of Fame class. On April 17, Greer will be honored at the City Series’ annual banquet, where he will join Saint Joseph’s great Jameer Nelson and Villanova’s Randy Foye, among others.
Greer, who attended many Big 5 games at the Palestra with his father as a child, counted Penn’s Jerome Allen and St. Joe’s Rashid Bey as some of his non-Temple favorites back in the day. He acknowledged he was not expecting either honor, especially so soon after his playing days ended.
“Growing up, you didn't expect those things to happen. You're just playing the game you love. To be recognized in that way, it's just a huge honor,” he said.
Charles Brown, the longtime coach at Engineering & Science High School, gave Greer his first legitimate shot at playing time. Despite playing behind nine seniors, Greer said Brown’s confidence and decision to give him playing time was extremely important in his rise.
“[Brown]’s the one who catapulted me to being a top player. A lot of people don't know or probably wouldn’t expect, I barely played on my middle school team,” Greer said.
Chaney’s influence stretched well beyond Greer’s time at Temple. He believes Chaney’s tactical ability and ability to teach life lessons through the sport propelled him to a professional career.
After spending so much time with his college coach over the course of five years, Greer feels he saw and played the game differently, compared to his pro teammates. The discipline Chaney forced his players to have was, in his estimation, one of the biggest reasons for his success.
“I would see guys who didn't know how to remain calm under pressure,” he said. “I would see coaches who didn't know how to teach a zone, so I would see a whole bunch of different things that I learned at Temple and I learned from Coach Chaney. Even conducting [myself] off the court when I became a pro, nobody had to tell me because I already knew.”
Greer has tried to pass on some of Chaney’s lessons, such as the importance of education and using basketball as a tool to get an education, to the next generation of Philly youth. He has recently gotten involved with a Philadelphia based non-profit organization called Young Educated Athletes. The organization provides learning-based/educational activities, as well as instructional basketball clinics on different holidays or days that schools are closed. He has been a featured guest speaker for on multiple occasions, and he believes the easiest way to relate to kids is through basketball, because he had the same aspirations when he was their age.
“[I’m] just letting them know that a person from the same neighborhood or same area they came from can do positive things. It gives them a little hope,” Greer said. “I was once that kid at a camp and had a special guest speaker speaking to us, going to school behaving, listening to our parents. It seems like it's full circle because I'm saying the same thing to these kids.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON -- PART III
Greer has spent the bulk of his post-retirement life, though, on being a father. His son, Lynn III, is a highly touted prospect who recently completed his freshman season at Roman Catholic. He is currently ranked No. 66 in the country in the Class of 2020 according to Future150 and has already received scholarship offers from Penn State and Tulane.
In addition, Temple, Villanova and Kentucky, among others, have shown interest in the 6-1 point guard.
Greer’s son is just the latest blue-chip player in the Greer family. The list includes Greer’s father, Lynn Sr., a former Phoenix Suns draft pick from Virginia State University and Edison High School in Philadelphia, as well as sister Kelli Greer, who also played at Engineering & Science. Other members of the Greer clan are uncle Vernon Greer, a standout at Dobbins High School and Cheyney University, and cousin LaMarr Greer, a former McDonald’s All-American who played at Florida State.
As his son goes through high school and the recruiting process, Greer is trying to model the approach his father took with him in the 1990s. He called his father “the real MVP,” in reference to Kevin Durant’s NBA MVP acceptance speech in 2014.
“[My shooting ability] was all my dad. We just spent hours and hours shooting,” Greer said. “He put in the time to leave work early sometimes and get in trouble with his boss just to be at my high school games.”
Greer was able to mold Lynn III game just like his father did, since Lynn III and his wife lived with him wherever he played in Europe. Greer would usually work his son out after his practices ended, and Lynn III also played on some of the junior club teams in the different countries Greer played in.
With Greer’s professional career over, he can now pay full attention to his son’s burgeoning career.
“He's in the part of his basketball career where it's important that he develops, learns as much as he can,” Greer said. “Who better to give my knowledge to than my son?”
To Lynn III, it’s been a noticeable change in just two years.
“He's really focused on me developing as a basketball player and as a person. Since he's come back I've been on a different level,” Lynn III said.
When Temple assistant coach Dwayne Killings called Greer last summer to let him know he was moving on to UConn, Killings asked Greer if he had any interest in replacing him.
Greer was torn because of his love for Temple but knew he didn’t want to make such a big commitment with his son entering high school.
Eventually, Greer came around to the idea of starting his coaching career, figuring he would be able to balance his dual roles as father and coach. He told Dunphy to let him know that he had interest in the job, and over the summer, he formally interviewed for the vacancy.
Greer felt at one point he had a legitimate shot at getting the job, but the position eventually went to fellow former Owl Chris Clark.
“I actually kind of felt relieved because it wouldn't be me juggling two things. It just reinforced the reason why I retired, which is to be there for my son,” Greer said. “It was great to go through the process and for Coach Dunphy just sitting down talking to me was an honor.”
Greer was disappointed to not get the position but understands that his lack of coaching experience put him at a disadvantage compared to other candidates.
“But I just had so much love for Temple that I want to see these guys do well. I want to see these guys succeed and play professionally, so I just want to give everybody what I have to offer,” he said.
Greer was one of the first Chaney players to embrace Dunphy, and the two have maintained a good relationship for years.
“I'm a Coach Chaney guy but I'm a Temple guy,” he said. “If I can help in any way, if he needs me to talk to players, I can do that.”
That relationship doesn’t necessarily extend to Lynn III’s recruitment however. Greer said his son’s recruitment is completely wide open. He wants his son to pick a school on his own and go to a school he’s most comfortable with.
“I don't want to influence him in any way. My career was my career and his has to be his. My father wasn't forcing me to Virginia State,” Greer said. “He has to have his own life.”
Lynn III’s recruitment is only in its beginning stages and he is almost guaranteed to pick up many more offers in the next few years. Playing on Team USA junior national teams and the Nike EYBL AAU circuit against top competition will likely boost his stock dramatically over the coming summers.
Though Chaney has yet to see him play, he heard great reviews of Lynn III’s game from coaching friends. The former Owls coach even expressed hope that Lynn III would choose to play at Temple.
“If he's anything like his father, he's going to be one great, great kid and a great player, too,” Chaney said.