Anthony Davis relishes fifth consecutive All-Star trip

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

It seems like a very long time ago, but Anthony Davis was once named a first-time All-Star as an injury replacement for Kobe Bryant, in a Western Conference so loaded with talent that it wasn’t a given Davis would be part of the midseason showcase. Davis has gone on to earn All-Star status every year since then, making it five consecutive honors in 2018, as he travels to Los Angeles on Thursday. Although it’s seemingly become a foregone conclusion that he’s headed to All-Star each winter, Davis insists he never views it that way.

“It’s not routine. Every All-Star (selection) you get is special, honestly,” the 24-year-old said during New Orleans’ recent road trip. “There are only a certain amount of guys who are able to get it, 12 on each side (of the NBA), so when you get a chance to become an All-Star, it’s a great thing for you, whether it’s your first time, 19th time, whatever. You’ve got to embrace it all. It’s not something that’s given lightly. It’s a credit to all of your hard work and the amount of hours you put in in the gym, then showing it on the floor. That’s what it’s really about.”

Davis has tried to enjoy the All-Star experience as much as possible over the past half-decade, with perhaps his most memorable moment being winning the MVP trophy in 2017, on his home floor at the Smoothie King Center. The power forward/center set the All-Star Game’s all-time scoring record by dropping in 52 points, an accomplishment that was somewhat overshadowed by complaints about the night’s lack of competitiveness – and more significantly in the Crescent City, breaking news that the Pelicans were acquiring fellow perennial All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. A year later, Davis looks back at his MVP as something he checked off his career bucket list, an honor made more special by the fact he received it in front of so many familiar faces.

“It was a good award to get, something that I definitely wanted to get while I was in the league,” Davis said of being named All-Star Game MVP. “And I was happy I was able to get it in New Orleans. I enjoyed it.”

The NBA introduced a brand-new format for this year’s All-Star Game, which featured the top two vote-getters, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, picking their teammates from the remaining 22-player pool. There was common speculation, both before and after the inaugural All-Star “draft,” that Davis was among the initial players chosen. Although Davis said he still isn’t sure exactly where he was picked by James in the order, he was honored to be considered a likely early choice.

“A lot of the guys respect my game, which is good for me and good for your confidence, knowing that out of a pool of players, you were able to be one of the top ones selected,” the 24-year-old said. “I don’t know how true that is, but if it is, it’s a great honor, just to be one of the first guys picked obviously on LeBron’s team.”

Davis added that he was mostly unaffected by the altered format, saying it didn’t change any of his perspective about All-Star accolades.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I feel like if you’re picked to be an All-Star, that’s a humbling experience in itself. As long as you’re an All-Star, the rest of it is irrelevant.”

Davis will be participating in various off-the-court activities over the next few days, including countless interviews, as well as the NBA’s community service projects in Southern California (Cousins will also be part of various All-Star events but obviously won’t play Sunday, in the early stages of rehabilitating his season-ending Achilles injury). The sixth-year pro relishes the entire experience, but when asked what he most looks forward to about what’s become an annual All-Star trip, it is Sunday evening, when he’ll perform for a worldwide audience that seems to expand every year.

“Just playing in the game,” Davis said of his favorite aspect of the weekend. “You just want to go out there and have fun, and I think this year will be a little bit more competitive. It’s a great opportunity – you’re playing in front of millions of people.”