SHANGHAI – Anthony Davis somehow grew another inch in the past year – he’s now 6-foot-11 – yet he had the same general reaction many do when he met Yao Ming for the first time in person Saturday, on the rooftop of the Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai.
“He’s very tall,” Davis noted of the 7-6 Yao. “I thought I was tall, but he’s very tall.”
The three-time New Orleans Pelicans All-Star joined Yao and fellow 7-foot-plus Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo for a half-hour special that will air on NBA TV. The upcoming 30-minute show is appropriately titled “Centers of the Universe.”
It was a chance for Davis to discuss the game with two all-time greats, while appreciating a breathtaking view of China’s largest city. Yao is an owner of the professional basketball franchise based here, the Shanghai Sharks, who faced the Houston Rockets in a preseason game this week.
“We just talked about basketball – when we first started playing, how the game is changing,” Davis recalled of his conversation with Yao. “All type of stuff about the game of basketball. It was a great time talking with Yao and Dikembe. It was a great experience for me, the first time meeting Yao. It was a fun experience and I had a lot of fun talking to them.”
Prior to Saturday’s Pelicans practice at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Davis and other Pelicans players spoke with a large contingent of Chinese media. Here are a few other highlights from the media availability:
Asked to discuss the impact of Hall of Fame locks Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett retiring from the NBA this summer, Davis said, “They are two different players. Tim was more fundamental, footwork, bank shot. Both won rings. KG he was all around the floor. We’re going to miss them both, two talented players. It’s tough to see them go – two guys I learned a lot from, two guys I watched over the course of their career and tried to add parts to my game. It’s going to be tough to see them not in the NBA anymore.” …
Pelicans rookie guard Buddy Hield on China: “I love it. A lot of big, tall buildings. The people are really nice, the fans are really good. I’m just happy to see how basketball is spread around the world. I love China so much. I want to come back… I love Chinese food, especially the shrimp fried rice.” …
Alvin Gentry on New Orleans’ objective to reach the postseason in 2016-17: “We want to be a playoff team. I think it’s important for us to strive to be a playoff team. Once you get in the playoffs, obviously anything can happen. If we stay healthy, and everything goes according to plan, then we would like to be one of the 16 teams that are in the playoffs.”