Blazer by Choice: Davis Brings Drive to Rip City

Trail Blazers power forward/center Ed Davis would get text messages some mornings from his father Terry, who played for four teams during a 10-year NBA career. Terry wasn’t  a particularly heralded player, though he managed to carve out a career that included 275 starts despite going undrafted out of Virginia Union University, perhaps by following the cautionary words that he’d send to his son in those morning texts.

“I remember growing up, my dad used to text me all the time ‘You’ll never get better laying in bed.’” recalled the younger Davis. “’You don’t want to get up today? Well, somebody else is getting better.’ That always stuck with me. So every day I got up and made sure to grind.”

Which is one of the reasons why Ed Davis has been able to make his own way in the NBA after being selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 13th overall pick of the 2010 Draft after playing two seasons at the University of North Carolina. Maybe having a father who played gave Davis an easier path to the NBA, though not for the reason most might assume. It’s not so much that having an NBA dad paves your way to the league as much as it gives an accurate representation of the amount of hard work that actually goes into getting to the NBA and staying there. Hence those text message from dad.

“All the guys who made it to the NBA whose fathers played in the NBA, they put in that work,” said Davis. “Nothing is given to you, especially in the NBA. They don’t give you anything, you have to earn everything. That’s the thing that the average person doesn’t understand. You look at me and say ‘He’s 6-10, his dad played in the NBA, he just walked in the door.’ That’s not the case. They don’t see the hard work in 7th, 8th grade, getting up in the morning to run and workout and things like that. They don’t see that grind.”

Davis has continued to stick to the grind, even as he describes his NBA career thus far as “a little up and down.” But after signing as a free agent with Portland this offseason, Davis is confident he’s found a home after playing for three different teams over the last five seasons.

“I was playing well in Toronto my third year, then I got traded to Memphis,” said Davis. “I played behind (Zach Randolph) and Marc (Gasol) for a year and a half, didn’t really get the opportunity. I was playing 13, 14 minutes a game and there’s no way that’s you’re going to be successful in the NBA with those minutes. That set me back for a year and a half. I guess the media or whatever thought I couldn’t play, or whatever it was. Went to L.A. last year, had a decent year and everything turned. Now I’m in a great situation and I’m looking forward to it.”

He probably could have waited for a larger free agent offer than the one he got from Portland after averaging 8.3 points on 60 percent shooting and 7.6 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game last season. But after bouncing around a bit in the last three seasons, Davis said he’s was much more interested in going to a team where he could show the result of years of grinding rather than simply signing up with the highest bidder.

“I’ve never been motivated about money,” said Davis. “Obviously money is great to have, I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t want money, but it’s more about just being comfortable and being happy every day. I feel this situation is where I can grow as a player and continue to get better. I didn’t want to go somewhere in a role where I couldn’t grow or I couldn’t improve. My main thing is I wanted to find an organization or a team that wanted me and had a need for me. And I found that here.”