NBA star’s wife finds business home on the bluffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 17, 2004

If life were a bag of “could haves,” Veronique Green might still be punching numbers at a Houston accounting firm.

She could have turned the TV off just two minutes earlier. She could have refused to return the call. And she sure could have driven anywhere but here.

But she didn’t.

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She awoke to a late night re-run of “Extra” and saw former Lakers great A.C. Green for more than a scrappy rebounder who set the NBA record for consecutive games played (that would be 1,192 according to Veronique — and the NBA record book).

She did finally return that call to A.C. Green, even though she set the parameter of never dating an athlete. (Working 11 years for the NBA will do that to a woman of principle.)

And though she could have driven anywhere, Veronique Green drove to Demopolis one December afternoon when there could have been no better time for a quaint city to host a curious visitor.

“A.C. had gone to speak to a group in Selma, and I decided to drive around,” Veronique says. “I ended up here during the river parade and I loved this area.”

She saw downtown Demopolis — a far cry from the Rice Hotel in Houston — and she had to know more.

“I started looking at everything,” she says. “The people were so nice. They really do stop and talk to you.”

And in the list of “could haves,” Veronique could have driven away from Demopolis, exchanged a few pleasantries about the town with her famed husband and hopped back on the plane for the other side of the United States.

But she didn’t.

Any NBA fan of the 1980s knows A.C. Green. His hair, in those days, was almost as slick as head coach Pat Riley’s. His fervor for finding a way around Robert Parrish or Kevin McHale was almost as keen as his point guard’s ability to lead a fast break. And his knack for hitting crucial, fourth-quarter shots was almost as incredible as his ability to spot Byron Scott floating behind the 3-point line.

In terms of NBA players, there may have been no better compliment to a team than A.C. Green was to his Lakers teammates. And serving as a compliment obviously wasn’t a show he displayed for TV cameras and Celtic scouts.

It’s hard to imagine two people who compliment themselves better than Veronique and A.C. Green.

Together, the two have found a way to balance a life full of speaking engagements and young kids who want autographs. They’ve discovered the uncanny ability to take a sturdy spiritual grounding and share it with anyone eager enough to listen. And they’ve realized making a difference means more than making a star-studded appearance on a Versace-decorated catwalk.

After A.C.’s talk in Selma two years ago, he and Veronique were given a better understanding of Alabama’s Black Belt region. They were driven through Uniontown and were eventually introduced to Allen Bishop at Robertson Bank.

“You won’t meet a nicer guy,” A.C. says of Bishop, who also serves as chairman of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

A few business calls later and the Greens decided to open a clothing store in Demopolis. They took Veronique’s name, spread it out into a few more syllables, and created “Very Unique Fashion,” located next to Spiller Furniture in downtown.

The play on words to create a store name is just the introduction to words lining the green walls of the women’s clothing store. To the right, three words describe a quality both Veronique and A.C. find mandatory in a fulfilling life: Integrity, Honesty, Character.

“It’s what he stands for,” Veronique says about her husband.

Though A.C. Green may have won the hearts of basketball fans with his world championship rings, he won the hearts of a greater mass when he began the crusade to promote abstinence to young people.

As the A.C. Green Youth Foundation mission statement says, the NBA star believes he can make the greatest impact on young people and their communities by “providing information about sexual abstinence and social issues that concern our young people…”

Green didn’t come to Demopolis on another lecture circuit — though he will make a stop at a few Demopolis schools this week. Rather, he came in his humble manner to compliment his lovely wife.

“I do whatever she says,” he laughs.

For now, A.C. Green handles an important part of Veronique’s business.

“He won’t tell you, so I will,” she says. “I’m the numbers person. He knows the clothing business.”

A.C. Green knows the clothing business so well, in fact, that he soon will introduce his own clothing line. Until then, he’ll help Veronique purchase the latest fashions at the best prices.

“We want to meet a need in this area,” Veronique says. “We want to alleviate the drive to Tuscaloosa or Montgomery, and we want to help people who live here by giving them good clothes, providing jobs and making this store a comfort and convenience for local people.”

Along with providing fashionable, yet reasonably priced, clothes, Veronique has created a store that makes ladies of all sizes feel welcome.

“We sell everything from size zero to size 32, and we don’t charge extra for the plus sizes like some do,” she said.

For a couple that could live a plus-sized life, travel anywhere, buy most anything, and spend glamorous nights skirting through the superficial crowds of Hollywood, A.C. and Veronique Green have chosen Main Street over Sunset Boulevard. Sure, they keep their home in Los Angeles, but these life-long partners realize people — not price tags — bring the greatest contentment. And by their enduring charter of integrity, honesty and character, it’s a fat chance the Green’s clothing store will ever be considered a “could have.”