Denton: Davis' Emotions Help Fuel His Performance

By John Denton
December 18, 2012

ORLANDO – Much like a volcano with hot lava bubbling just below the surface but prone to occasional eruptions, Orlando Magic forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis does his best to harness his fiery emotions while also using them to fuel his motor.

From time to time, the fire burns too hot and there are flare-ups, such as Monday night’s technical foul when he screamed at an official for what he thought was a series of no calls.

But when Davis is using his emotions as momentum for his game, he can be as infectious a player as there is on the Magic’s roster. Driven to match Minnesota all-star forward Kevin Love step for step, Davis scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half to lead the Magic to a stirring come-from-behind victory.

Seconds after Davis ended the game with the basketball curled under his arm and him screaming out to the crowd, fans got a peek into the swirl of emotions that the power forward was going through. His postgame conversation with Fox Sports Florida’s Dante Marchitelli showed how Davis is driven by his passion and fiery nature – as long as both are held in check.

``They tried to take it from us and our team fought. That’s what it’s all about, man,’’ Davis screamed into the microphone. And seconds later, when it seemed Davis had cooled off a bit, he fired back with this: ``I’m just doing what I gotta do – blue collar. I ain’t no first class, I ain’t no upper class, I’m blue collar and middle class. I just go get the job done no matter what.’’

Davis’ ability to author what is a career season thus far is all about controlling emotions – both the good kind and the bad kind. He was named a team captain prior to the season with the hope that it would make him accountable every day for his actions and emotions. Thus far, he’s passed every test, leading the team in scoring (16.2 points per game) and leading the team off the floor as well.

Davis admitted on Tuesday as the surging Magic, 11-13 and winners of three straight, wrapped up preparations for Wednesday’s game against Washington that controlling his emotions will always be the key for him.

``It’s a challenge. It’s something that I have work on every day while growing and maturing and stepping into the gaps sometimes,’’ Davis said. ``I have to step out of the situation, step out of myself sometimes and really think about it. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do and it’s a process that I’m working on.’’

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn wanted Davis to be a co-captain along with veteran point guard Jameer Nelson because he saw how the power forward worked with younger players and his energy and emotion were infectious. He also wanted the captain role for Davis because he thought it might help better hold him accountable for his actions. So far, Vaughn said he couldn’t have asked for much more from Davis.

``Less ups and downs and he’s been steadier,’’ Vaughn said. ``And that’s a great sign for him. For the most part his demeanor has been consistent. That’s the way a captain should be. … I think he’s done a great job of channeling that emotion to fuel him and to compete. That’s the way it should be. I love emotion and I love him playing with it – as long as it’s channeled in the right direction.’’

Davis said one of the things that he’s learned about being a captain is that there’s never a day off when it comes to leadership. He’s being looked to by the other veterans to spark them, while the younger players often seek guidance through him.

He has talked to former teammate Kevin Garnett about the demands of the role because the Boston Celtics power forward was a mentor for him early in his career.

``I can’t be up and down and I have to be one way all of the time because there are people watching me,’’ Davis said. ``It’s easy to not do as much when nobody is paying attention to you. But when everybody is watching everything that you do and listening to everything that you say, you do whatever it takes and go above and beyond. You have to do the best that you can so that you don’t let people down.’’

He has let no one down on the court, leading the Magic in scoring 10 times and in rebounding 10 times. He’s had seven 20-point games, including 29 in the opener against Denver and the 28 on Monday in the come-back win versus Minnesota. In that game, Orlando got pushed around much of the first half and fell behind by as many as 15 points, before Davis led a monstrous second-half charge. He made all six of his shots in the third period and 10 of 11 field goal attempts after halftime to spark the Magic victory.

Davis did get a technical foul in the second quarter, his first of the season. And when he saw the fiery power forward’s emotions starting to bubble over at halftime, Nelson had another heart-to-heart conversation with his fellow co-captain.

``He’s been great as a leader. There are times – and he’ll tell you this – that I have to get onto him because I’ve been in this position for a long time,’’ Nelson said. ``I think (Davis) appreciates it and understands where I’m coming from and why I get on him at times. It settles him back down. I don’t say anything harsh to him, but I let him know what we need from him and he listens. I told him last night that he can’t get too high or too low.’’

Being in this spot – as both the go-to player for a team on the floor and a captain off of it – is the spot that Davis has longed for his throughout his NBA career. He was a backup much of his first five seasons with Boston and Orlando, before finally getting his chance to be a starter late last season.

Now, he looks at a player like Minnesota’s Love – his head-to-head competition on Monday night – as someone he wants to emulate. He wants to ``make it,’’ as he said, as both a star player and a leader for his team.

``This is what I’ve always wanted – to be that guy who can make a huge difference on a team,’’ he said. ``Here I am now and I have a lot of opportunities. I just want to make sure that at the end of the day that when it was all said and done that I’ve done all I could when I had my chance.’’

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