Anthony Davis hoping for second chance — with Michael Jordan
All eyes will be on AD at All-Star, but he’ll be on the lookout for his idol
Michael Jordan was right in front of Anthony Davis, offering to answer any questions at the Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina, nearly eight years ago. But the then-18-year-old Davis was too in awe of his childhood idol and stayed silent.
Eight years later in the same city, the NBA All-Star hopes he can get another opportunity with the NBA icon and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
“I’ve never had a conversation with Jordan. Never. Never. I would love to just talk to him. Big fan,” Davis recently told The Undefeated.
It would be a nice change of pace for the six-time All-Star, who has been the one fielding all the questions lately.
After requesting a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis stayed put at the trade deadline and finds himself in an awkward situation with his current team — a team he called out Tuesday night after a lackluster performance.
The questions about his playing future won’t stop during the All-Star break either. Saturday’s open media session could be especially challenging for Davis. And all eyes will be on him during Sunday’s All-Star Game when he teams up with LeBron James, who has made it known that he wants Davis to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
“You got to prepare for it,” Davis told The Undefeated last month about handling All-Star Weekend. “I got asked the questions before, but my answers going to stay the same. My job is to focus on the Pelicans; the other stuff, I let whoever handle it. … My job is to focus on trying to be the most competent player, help this team get to the playoffs. The rest of it is going to be talked about when it’s talked about.”
Davis said he is looking forward to the All-Star festivities, especially playing on Sunday with Jordan expected to be in the building.
Davis was born in Chicago on March 11, 1993, during Jordan’s legendary title run with the Chicago Bulls. The Hall of Famer led the Bulls to titles from 1991-93 and 1996-98 and was named Finals MVP each time.
While Davis was too young to truly enjoy watching Jordan as a Bulls star, his father and family members made sure he watched his highlights.
“I didn’t get a chance to see him play, but all I heard was about him. My pops, uncles, my cousins who played ball, and they’re like, ‘Jordan, Jordan, Jordan!’ ” Davis said. “The only time I saw him play was on tapes and stuff like that, on film. But the love that the city of Chicago had for him and still has for him is unreal. My family is Bulls fans, so they always talk about Jordan.
“But just watching him and the stuff he did, six times in the Finals, 6-0. Stuff he did for the city, stuff he did for the Bulls organization, is something that can never be repeated. That’s why I think he’s for sure the best in the game ever to lace them up.”
Davis recalls taking a picture as a kid in front of Jordan’s statue outside of the United Center in Chicago that got a lot of likes and comments on social media. His family also has a picture of a young Davis holding a Jordan No. 23 basketball.
“I’ve been to a couple Bulls games and I saw the statue,” Davis said. “Honestly, the statue is what kind of was the closest thing I got to him when I was younger. Like, ‘This is MJ,’ and take a picture with him and it goes on your social media, back when it was like MySpace and Facebook. It just goes up there and gets all the likes and stuff and comments. Anybody who played ball in the city had definitely been to the UC, and they got a picture of the statue and them.”
While Davis wears No. 23 like Jordan did, he said he didn’t pick the number but was just given it by his high school coach. Davis arrived at Perspectives Charter as an unheralded 6-foot guard in 2007. By the time he was a senior, he sprouted to 6 feet, 10 inches and grew into perhaps the best high school basketball player in the country, averaging 32 points, 22 rebounds and 7 blocks per game.
In 2011, the Kentucky signee was rewarded with an invite to play in the Jordan Brand Classic, an elite high school All-Star Game featuring the top prep seniors. Davis earned co-MVP honors after compiling 29 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks for the West All-Americans.
That’s when Davis had the opportunity to talk to Jordan for the first time. But Davis was too nervous to say a word.
“Man, this is Michael Jordan. It was my first time seeing him and talking to him,” Davis said. “He was like, ‘Any questions?’ I had so many questions, I just couldn’t build myself up to say anything to Jordan. I didn’t ask anything. I was in awe.”
Davis said he has not spoken to nor been around Jordan since being drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 by the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans). At the very least, he will be wearing an NBA All-Star jersey with a Jordan Brand symbol on it Sunday.
As for dealing with all of the questions that will surely come his way this weekend, he is prepared, but mostly looking forward to letting his game do the talking.
“The rest of the weekend is all right, but Sunday I’m definitely excited because not too many people can do it,” Davis said. “I feel excited for All-Star, all of the parties and all the stuff you got to do, but Sunday night it is about playing.”