Anthony Davis excited to play in 2014 All-Star Game
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Eight days after delivering the disappointing news by phone to Anthony Davis that Davis had not been picked as a 2014 NBA All-Star, New Orleans Pelicans Coach Monty Williams was particularly pleased to call the 20-year-old again on Friday afternoon. The message: the second-year power forward had been chosen by new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as an All-Star Game replacement, meaning he’ll get to play in the league’s midseason showcase event after all.
“He thought I was joking,” Williams said of today’s phone conversation. “He was speechless and laughing. He’s 20 – I didn’t expect a poem. I can’t tell you happy I was to be able to tell him the news, after having to tell him the first time that he didn’t make it. To be able to talk to him on the phone and let him know was a cool moment. I’m just happy for him. I can’t express that enough.”
“Like Coach said, I was speechless,” Davis said of the talk. “I didn’t know what to say. It’s great. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m excited to play in the game. I’m glad they chose me to represent the Pelicans and New Orleans.”
Although Davis was not among the initial 12 players selected to the Western Conference roster on Jan. 30, there was widespread discussion that he was the frontrunner to replace Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who will not play in the Feb. 16 All-Star Game due to injury. As several days passed and no announcement had been made, however, Davis put the possibility of All-Star out of his mind. Despite numerous injuries to other key members of the Pelicans, New Orleans has played well recently, including going 2-1 since the All-Star snub.
“I was down, but I moved on,” Davis said of originally been left off the All-Star team. “I understood that I have a lot more opportunities to try to get in the game.”
“He was obviously down,” Williams agreed. “We both were. I was just trying to help him through it. I got emotional almost to the point of being over-emotional. We both were just licking our wounds and whining a little bit. But then it was about getting back to reality and proving to everybody why he should be an All-Star.”
The NBA’s leading shot-blocker, as well as a top-10 rebounder and top-20 scorer, Davis has averaged 24.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks since the coaches’ All-Star voting deadline of Jan. 28.
“I think the last three weeks have been him sealing the deal, so to speak,” Williams said. “His teammates have helped him. They’ve looked for him and would like to see him succeed. It’s obviously a great moment for Anthony and his family and the organization. (Pelicans Owner Tom Benson) was excited to have his first All-Star.”
One of the people Davis texted today after hearing the news was former University of Kentucky teammate and current Pelicans teammate Darius Miller, who has gotten an up-close view of Davis’ progression from highly-touted recruit to NBA All-Star in just a three-year span.
“You could tell he was really talented when he came to UK, but we had a pretty stacked team so he didn’t get to show everything that he could do,” said Miller, who’ll now likely re-arrange his plans to attend the All-Star Game. “Now he’s getting the chance to show everybody what he’s capable of. He continues to get better. I’m happy to be a part of it too, just watching him and seeing him grow as a player and as a friend.”
“It’s going to be great,” Davis said of getting the rare opportunity to play in the All-Star Game in front of his home NBA fans. “I’m excited to represent New Orleans and the team, my family, my friends. It might not be (here) for a long time. You’ve got to enjoy it while it’s here. It’s my second year. I’m more than blessed and excited to play. I can’t wait for the game. I can’t wait.”