All-Star Anthony Davis celebrates 21st birthday
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
What kind of 21st birthday present do you get for a man who has an Olympic gold medal, an NBA All-Star Game appearance, an NCAA championship, a National Player of the Year award and a lucrative NBA contract?
That was the dilemma friends, family and teammates of Anthony Davis faced entering today, when the New Orleans Pelicans power forward turned 21. Forgive the second-year pro if he didn’t sound overwhelmingly giddy prior to his big day – while many 21-year-olds are still basking in the relative pressure-free lifestyle of college, Davis has already compiled an lengthy list of accomplishments. He became the face of an NBA franchise the day he was drafted No. 1 overall at the age of 19.
“I expected 21 to be a lot more exciting than it is,” Davis said, matter-of-factly, without complaint. “I don’t feel any different, really. It doesn’t even feel like it’s my birthday. It feels like another normal day, another Tuesday. People say this is when you become a grown-up, but I’ve been doing grown-up things already – earning paychecks, playing in a man’s league, paying bills, filing taxes – things you do when you’re grown. I’ve been doing those things for the last couple years. I guess that’s probably why it feels different.”
Indeed, it’s virtually impossible to compare Davis’ 21st to just about anyone you’ve ever met. After all, how many people are required to hold a conference call with the media to discuss their plans for their 21st birthday, as Davis was Monday?
As the Pelicans’ leader this season in scoring (20.6 points per game), rebounding (10.2 rpg) and blocked shots (2.91), Davis planned a low-key celebration for his milestone birthday. After all, on Wednesday the Pelicans are scheduled to play game No. 64 of the long 82-game season and will likely need another big performance from their young All-Star. Maybe even something along the lines of his 32-point, 17-rebound, six-block outing in Sunday’s overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets.
“It’s during the season,” Davis said of his birthday. “I’m having a little dinner with family and the team. That’s really it. We’re not really doing too much.”
Although he’s only in his second season with New Orleans, this is actually the third consecutive year that Davis has spent his birthday in the Crescent City. The day he turned 19 on March 11, 2012, he played in the SEC championship game in the Smoothie King Center. Unfortunately for Davis and the Kentucky Wildcats, they lost the game to Vanderbilt.
“I was bummed out about that,” remembered Davis, who more than made up for it three weeks later, when Kentucky won the 2012 NCAA title across the street, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Today is the second straight year that the Pelicans are not playing a game on Davis’ birthday, allowing him to spend additional time celebrating with his teammates. His entire immediate family is also here visiting from Chicago.
As for what kind of gifts he was anticipating, Davis didn’t have anything specific in mind that he hoped to receive, saying he’s happy to be able to join family and Pelicans players in commemorating the occasion. The group held a birthday dinner for Davis on Monday night.
“I’m grateful for anything,” he said of potential presents. “Knowing that it came from family and friends means a lot, that’s the most important thing. Having them there will mean a lot. I’m with (teammates) more than my family during the season. I’m going to have a good time, laugh and joke around a lot. For (teammates) to come and celebrate with me means a lot, because we consider each other family.”