Anthony Davis pretty much fell backwards on to the London Olympic team. Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski like him as a prospect, but it took injuries to Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin (his in training camp) for Team USA to get desperate enough to grab the No. 1 overall pick of the Hornets.
He got some run — he was basically a human victory cigar and averaged 4.3 points a game — but that was not the big deal. It was the confidence, Anthony told the Times-Picayune (via SLAM).
“Those guys on the Olympic team treated me like I belonged and it boosted my confidence,” Davis said this past weekend from New York where he was participating in the NBA’s rookie transition program. “When I got in games, I felt more confidence. They talked to me and told me what to do, so it definitely was great.”
“A lot of them shared their perspective on the game and the whole team took me under their wings and showed me the ropes,” Davis said.
Even for the best college players, the NBA is an adjustment — it’s a job now. You’ve got 82 games, a lot more travel, a lot more is expected of you on the court, there are a lot more temptations off it. You have to learn to be professional.
Anthony Davis just got a crash course in it from the very best players walking the planet. He got to see Kobe Bryant’s work ethic, he got to see how Kevin Durant prepares himself, how LeBron James handles games and fame. That is invaluable stuff to soak up. It pushes him along the learning curve so much farther, so much faster than his fellow rookies. He may or may not be the Rookie of the Year, but he is the guy expected to lead the Hornets into the future, and he just watched 11 of the best guys in team leading up close. That is huge.
Plus, the gold medal is pretty sweet.
Nobody expected what happened Tuesday night in the Bay Area.
If you had said “San Antonio would beat Golden State by five” most people would have said that’s a possibility — but nobody saw a 29-point thrashing. A game where the Spurs were never threatened and where Kawhi Leonard looked like the MVP.
What does it mean? In this PBT Extra I talk about how the Spurs showed the Warriors they have some work to do on the defensive end. The Warriors clearly miss the rim protection and rebounding of Andrew Bogut, and they are going to have to make that up as a team (because Zaza Pachulia is no Bogut). The Warriors also have 81 more games to figure it out.
Cleveland, on the other hand, has it figured out.
An astounding 86% of general managers said one year ago Anthony Davis was their preferred choice to build a franchise around.
An underwhelming season by the Pelicans put Davis in a strange light, and he ended the year sidelined due to injury.
Asked the same question this year, general managers gave Karl-Anthony Towns took a plurality of votes. Davis also plunged behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Well, Davis sent a message to those who no longer view him as an elite franchise cornerstone. His opening-night performance:
- 50 points
- 16 rebounds
- 5 assists
- 7 steals
- 4 blocks
The last player to score 50 in a season opener was Michael Jordan in 1989. No player since at least 1983-84 has matched Davis’ stat line across the five major categories in any game.
Yes, New Orleans lost – 107-102 to the Nuggets. But Davis’ teammates shot 36% from the field and 18% on 3-pointers.
Davis produced an all-time great individual performance. That the rest of the Pelicans couldn’t keep up says only so much.
He just knows how to make a splash in season openers.
Sevyn Streeter said the 76ers prevented her from singing the national anthem at tonight’s game because she was wearing a “WE MATTER” jersey:
“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community.”
This is a continuation of Carmelo Anthony‘s argument: The emphasis should be on action in communities and there’s no longer a place for gestures like Colin Kaepernick kneeling.
But this needn’t be an either/or discussion. Community-based action is obviously important (though don’t assign responsibility to NBA players to fix racism). Recognizing the width and depth of the problem is necessary – which is why symbols matter, too.
Take Street’s shirt at face value. “We matter.” “Black lives matter.” What’s so offensive about that? There is no implicit “more” attached.
Yet, the 76ers found it antithetical to their brand.
This is why the widespread “unity” message preached by arm-locking NBA players left so much to be desired.
To the 76ers, unity meant silencing Streeter.
Is that what players were demonstrating on behalf of during the preseason? I’m sure that arena was much more united with a 76ers dancer singing the anthem than it would have been with Streeter spotlighted. But sometimes divisiveness is necessary to advance a cause.
If the 76ers don’t want Streeter using their platform to say “WE MATTER,” that’s their right. Not everyone has to support that choice, though.
No NBA players followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead by kneeling during the national anthem in the preseason.
But that courageous form of protest still found its way onto NBA courts.
A national-anthem singer knelt before a Kings game, and other did at a Heat game.
Another singer wanted to take a bold stance for the 76ers’ regular-season opener against the Thunder tonight by wearing a “WE MATTER” jersey, but she said the team stopped her.
A 76ers dancer performed the anthem instead:
The 76ers deserve some latitude to choose how someone uses their platform. But what about claiming black lives matter is antithetical to the 76ers’ brand?
The team did not immediately respond to request for comment. I will update if it does.