Denton: Davis Ready For Return to Boston
By John Denton
January 23, 2012
BOSTON – Before Sunday, it had been months, maybe even years since Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis took his gaudy 2008 NBA championship ring out of the safe. Heck, he even thought he had lost the oversized bauble at one time when he mistakenly left it in a safe that he had given away.
But on Sunday, with his Orlando Magic rolling along at an impressive 11-4 and on the verge of him returning to Boston, Davis brought the ring with him to practice to serve as motivation and a reminder.
``I haven’t looked at it since like a week after I got it. I forgot I had it and once I thought I lost it,’’ Davis said of his championship ring after the Magic’s Sunday morning practice. ``Dwight liked (the ring), but then he started talking about his (Olympic) gold medal. I’ve never really worn it, but I felt like I should wear it today. Today is the day that I broke it out and I shined it up. I didn’t throw it anybody’s face or anything like that, but everybody knows this is (what the Magic are gunning for.)’’
Davis returns to Boston on Monday for the first time since leaving the Celtics for the Magic back in November. Technically, the Magic acquired the 6-foot-9, 290-pound Davis and reserve shooting guard Von Wafer in a sign-and-trade deal for Brandon Bass, but he wanted to play for the Magic in order for a larger role on the team.
The Magic sought Davis because of his toughness, emotional nature and willingness to do some of the dirty work that the team sorely needed. Those two wants – the Magic wanting Davis to do dirty work and Davis wanting more of a primary role – have clashed at times, but Orlando has been delighted by his play of late as the Magic have won six of the past seven games.
``All of the players are kind of in my rotation, as I like to say. You have to remind them sometimes who and what they are when it changes,’’ Magic President of Basketball Operations/GM Otis Smith said. ``We have seen it with this team that everybody migrates out to the 3-point line, but that’s not some guys’ games. Glen started shooting it further out than he can have success with, and we just had to remind him why we liked him.’’
Magic superstar center Dwight Howard has always liked the bubbly and emotional Davis, and that’s one reason he pushed for the Magic to acquire him in the offseason. Howard and Davis have known each other since they were 12 years old, and through the years they played against one another in all-star games, AAU showdowns and in the NBA with the Celtics and Lakers.
Howard said his first memory of the sometimes wacky Davis was of him barking like a dog on the court during games to alert teammates to his positioning. He brought the tradition to Orlando, and the team usually does that before running onto the floor.
``I’ve been knowing Baby since we were 12 years old and nothing has changed with him. He’s the same ol’ Baby. He’s the same size now (as he was at 12 years old) with the same belly and everything,’’ Howard said. ``He’s just a really good piece to have. He’s been on a championship team and he knows what it takes. It’s good to have guys like him on our team.’’
Davis’ time in Boston was filled with dramatic highs and lows, and ultimately he left for Orlando in an attempt to escape Kevin Garnett’s enormous shadow at power forward. Davis won a title during his rookie season, but later clashed with teammates and coach Doc Rivers at times and infamously was seen crying on the bench at times as a Celtic.
Upon signing a four-year, $26 million contract with the Magic, Davis admittedly pressed as he tried to impress Orlando’s coaches, teammates and fans. And he hoped to put up numbers similar to last season with the Celtics when he registered career highs in scoring (11.7 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg.) and minutes played (29.5 mpg.).
But because he has to double as Howard’s backup at center, Davis has been used off the bench in Orlando. Adding to his self-inflicted pressure was the fact that Ryan Anderson has blossomed in Orlando, while Bass has thrived in Boston in Davis’ old role.
``You want to play well. You see Brandon doing really well in that system and playing a lot of minutes, and it was just different for me,’’ admitted Davis, who has averaged 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 22.4 minutes a game this season. ``You just have to adjust and be at peace with your role. I’m at peace now with my role here and I’m going to do it to the max. My opportunity (to do more) will come, and until then I’ll be cheering everybody on.’’
After a talk with Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who demanded that he get his focus back to rebounding, setting screens and drawing charges, Davis has been just what the Magic wanted. He rescued Orlando in Sacramento when Howard was dogged by foul trouble, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds. In the past seven games, he’s averaged 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while drawing several charges and playing gritty defense inside.
``He is the kind of team offensive player and team defensive player that we needed on this team. He’s a pretty intelligent basketball player and he understands his role for the most part,’’ Smith said. ``For his athletic ability he rebounds the ball well. He’s on the floor a lot and he’s a competitor. I like guys who compete.’’
Davis’ gritty nature made him a fan favorite with the blue-collar fans of Boston, and he hopes he’s cheered Monday night for the work he put in with the Celtics. After all, he was a big part of that 2008 championship team – and he still has the championship ring to prove it.
``I hope they give me love because I was there a long time – four years, that’s a long time. I think they will, but there will probably be some boos, too,’’ he said. ``If they play a video or something, it’ll be like (teary). I don’t think I’ll cry, but if they play that song, `I’ll Remember You,’ I might cry. That’s a sad song. Hopefully it all works out for the best.’’
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at email@example.com
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