Anthony Davis thrilled to make All-Star debut in NOLA (2/14/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

“New Orleans” is quickly becoming the answer to virtually every significant trivia question surrounding the burgeoning basketball career of Anthony Davis.

Where did Davis win an NCAA championship and earn Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in 2012? Which NBA team drafted him as the No. 1 pick that same year? In which city will he make his NBA All-Star Game debut?

Over just the past 22 months, the Crescent City has been the site of countless indelible memories for the 6-foot-10 power forward. On Sunday, he’ll add another chapter to his Big Easy scrapbook, when he plays for the Western Conference All-Star team at the Smoothie King Center. At just 20, he’s this year’s youngest All-Star.

During Friday’s All-Star interviews, Davis sounded like he occassionally wonders if all of the New Orleans-related events in his life aren’t part of some bigger plan. Coincidentally, the SEC men’s championship in 2012 was also held in New Orleans, Davis’ only SEC tournament at Kentucky.

“I think it’s the city that I need to be in,” Davis said, smiling as he listed what’s happened here since just April 2012. “I think New Orleans is the place for me. I had the SEC championship down here, the Final Four. Now All-Star. It definitely means more for the game to be here, especially for it to be my first time as an All-Star, to have the home crowd supporting me and cheering me on.”

In just his second NBA season, the Chicago native has ascended to All-Star status in rapid fashion, just in time to play in the league’s midseason showcase event as New Orleans serves as host. Davis joked that he’s also embraced that responsibility individually, with many first-time visitors to the city pumping him for information.

“Everyone asks me where to go or where to eat, so I definitely feel like a host,” he said. “Everybody’s been saying, ‘This is your city. Where should we go to eat?’ I’m about to print out a list so I can just hand it to people. You can’t go wrong with anything (food-wise here), honestly. I don’t eat seafood, so if you’re looking for seafood, I’m the wrong guy. But you can’t go wrong. Anywhere you go is good. There’s also a lot of good music down here. A lot of jazz, brass bands. And Jazz Fest is awesome.”

Davis will have family members in the crowd of 17,000-plus at Sunday’s game, but many of his relatives will be watching on TNT’s national broadcast back in Chicago. He joked that it was a good thing New Orleans hotels were already completely booked, because otherwise they would’ve been overrun by phone calls from his extended family.

Still, Davis is excited about the idea of looking up into the Smoothie King Center stands Sunday and seeing familiar faces, including countless Pelicans fans who’ve seen him become a bona fide star in Year 2 with the franchise.

“The city of New Orleans is a great city, a great fan base, great support,” Davis said. “To go out there Sunday and be able to play in front of friends and family, it’s going to be awesome. It feels great, especially to be able to do it here in the city of New Orleans. I can’t wait to go out there and play. I know the fans and the city are behind me, cheering me on, whether they’re in front of the TV, or in-arena. I’m very proud. This is a great city that I’m going to try to represent in the best way possible.”