Anthony Davis tips off 'Flight Academy' series of community events

Towering over a grade-school boy Wednesday afternoon, Anthony Davis held a red and purple NBA All-Star mini-basketball and quizzed the youngster. A smiling Davis said, “OK, you can have this ball if you answer one question: What does the ‘W’ on the ball stand for?"

The enthusiastic boy quickly responded, “West!” causing the 2014 Western Conference All-Star to laugh and hand over the ball (which he was planning to do regardless of the answer). It’s a side of the 21-year-old few see away from his soaring dunks, gaudy statistics and countless SportsCenter highlights, but Davis thoroughly enjoys interacting with New Orleans' youth, seeing himself as just “a big kid.”

The New Orleans Pelicans’ rising star met several new friends Wednesday, at the tip-off of his brand-new “Flight Academy” program. The initiative will consist of monthly community events throughout the 2014-15 season. Davis, who’s focusing on giving back to children and families in the greater New Orleans area, spent the afternoon serving meals for residents at the Salvation Army Center of Hope. The facility is located on South Claiborne Avenue, not far from the Smoothie King Center.

“Giving back to the community is really big for me,” said Davis, last season’s second-place finisher in the NBA’s 2014-15 Community Assist award. “I just decided to do something each month to give back in certain ways. Thanksgiving is in November, so we thought it would be good to do a Thanksgiving dinner. Each month, there will be something different. I like doing things like this. I feel like having the power to be able to give back, it’s something that should be done.”

Davis said he plans to continue and expand the Flight Academy program in future years as his career progresses, possibly adding some familiar partners.

“Hopefully I can combine with some of my teammates next year, and have it be even bigger,” he said. “This is only the beginning.”