Denton: Davis Lightest Since Eighth Grade

   

As for that meeting with O’Neal when he was just 13 years old, Shaq joked with him over and over during a kid’s basketball camp at LSU. Later, when the two of them were together for dinner, Shaq jokingly challenged Davis to a wrestling match and the result was somewhat surprising.

``Shaq’s mentor was the Academic Advisor at LSU and he mentored all of us,’’ Davis remembered. ``So one night I went to eat at his house and Shaq was there. Shaq wanted to wrestle me and I just pinned him down. I was like 13.’’

As he was once again trying to drop weight this summer, Davis ultimately decided that nothing would change until he made a massive makeover with his thought process.

``First off, it’s a mental thing. And then it’s a lifestyle thing. You basically have to change your lifestyle and the way you’ve been living all your life,’’ Davis said. ``You have to change it up to break the cycle. But when you think about the process and think about what you are trying to accomplish, then it’s all worth it.’’

It’s all worth it on nights like Tuesday when Davis made 15 of 24 shots, including a clutch 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to tie up the game. The 33 points he scored before fouling out in the second overtime were the most he’s ever had in a game. And losing all of the weight was worth it in his first game back when he poured in 20 points in 27 minutes and nearly led the Magic to a stirring upset of the Miami Heat.

Davis said that while he has more energy and is more agile playing at the lighter weight, he’s still trying to get used to playing with his new body. While he’s averaging 14 points per game and shooting a solid 50 percent from the floor, Davis is grabbing just 5.0 rebounds a game on average. He was visibly upset with himself for corralling just three rebounds in 50 minutes of court time on Tuesday against Philadelphia.

Still, Davis is proud of himself for slimming down and staying in great shape for the season. It’s good for his foot, and good for his psyche, he said.

``It is a blessing, and all I can do is thank God,’’ he said. ``Going from not playing for 10 months to working my way back, getting my body in shape and keeping my weight down, I’ve been working for this moment for so long.’’

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