In just a matter of years, Chicago native and New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis has gone from easily overlooked to now arguably the best power forward in the game.
It’s not just a story that warrants its own documentary, but one that keeps the 21-year-old forever humbled and grounded; no matter how high the trajectory of his career climbs.
With those attributes, a deep love for his hometown of Chicago, giving back and doing his part to promote positivity—for a city that can use as much as necessary—is as easy for Davis as a help-side rejection.
In what’s been, and will continue to be, a busy summer for Davis, he was in Chicago this past weekend for Red Bull’s first ever Red Bull Reign Three-on-Three Tournament.
The tournament took place at Chicago’s Seward Park and featured 32 teams and 128 players; most with collegiate and professional experience on their resumes, and each competing for a first-class trip to Las Vegas for a chance to watch the USA Basketball Men’s National Team, in addition to qualification for the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters in Chicago this August.
The tournament brought out nearly 2,500 spectators, some staying throughout the duration of the 10-hour day to get their hoops fix and cheer on local ballers.
Davis sat down with SLAM to discuss hoops, why giving back comes easy and competing for a spot on the US National Team that will be traveling to Spain next month for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
SLAM: If you had to construct your three-on-three squad, with one sub, to go to battle with, who would you select? Also, to make it interesting, you only can select players from Chicago.
Anthony Davis: Hmmmmm. Me, Isiah Thomas, D-Wade and I got to go with the young fella, Jabari [Parker].
SLAM: I know you followed Jabari some while he was at Duke. What are your thoughts on what you saw from him in Summer League play?
AD: He’s great. He can score the ball, going to be great in Milwaukee. He’ll help get some more wins there and I’m just happy for him. He’s another Chicago guy that made it to the NBA. So it’s all love for the Chicago guys.
SLAM: Do you still follow your hometown Chicago Bulls?
AD: No. Nah.
SLAM: What? So there’s no opinion on the moves they made this offseason?
AD: Not really.
SLAM: As far as what the Pelicans have done in adding Omer Asik, another rim protector and a guy that will allow you to play more power forward. Your thoughts on that move.
AD: That was a good pickup for us. Gives us another big and I can get away from the rim and work on my game at the 4 and we still have that rim-protector. It will allow me to get out [on the break] and run more and do a lot more stuff that I’ve been working on. That was a good move and I think it was a good pickup for us to take that next step.
SLAM: You have a pretty versatile all-around game that you don’t even have to display on a nightly basis with the pieces you have in New Orleans. What are some of the aspects of your game you went into this summer saying you wanted to work on?
AD: Ball-handling and three-pointers. I just wanted to work on everything really. There’s never one thing that I don’t want to work on. I just want to be a better all-around player, so whatever that requires me to do and whatever the team needs, that’s what I want to try to work on.
SLAM: In just talking to people close to you and that have played with you, they always talk about how we’re only just seeing half of what you’re capable of, which is scary for the rest of the League.
AD: I know there’s a lot more stuff that I can do, but sometimes there’s no need to do it. I don’t need to bring the ball up, or shoot threes. There are just some things I don’t need to do. But, just in case I have to do it one time, I’m going to make sure that aspect of my game is right.
SLAM: You were second in the running for the NBA Community Assist Award (Golden State’s Steph Curry won), you’re at the forefront of the Red Bull Reign Tournament and also the World Basketball Festival next month, which is also in your hometown. Just what does that mean to you and how important do you take that?
AD: Just not [at the forefront] of just those two events, but everything. I want to make sure that I’m that guy because I love giving back, especially with [the Red Bull Reign Tournament] and the WBF. It’s in Chicago, my hometown. I definitely wanted to be the guy for the two events and it’s just good to give back. When you have great things, I think you have that responsibility and that’s giving back to guys who essentially can’t do the things that you can do, and that’s what I try to do.
SLAM: Was that mentality instilled in you because a lot of times, it’s definitely tougher to have a consistent impact, even with you being from Chicago, you’re still away for a long time and there’s a lot of guys who want to do the right things. They just aren’t around.
AD: It’s not that hard. That’s what you have friends and family for, to host and set things up; let your family run things. Coat drives, back-to-school giveaways. You don’t necessarily have to be there, but by them knowing you donated things to help put them on a better path, it’s always good. So it’s never hard.
SLAM: The Team USA minicamp is begins Monday. How excited are you for that?
AD: I can’t wait to get down there and start working. It’s a lot of great basketball players and we’re going to be doing a lot of great things this summer. I’m excited.
SLAM: You left out one Chicago guy on your three-on-three roster, but I can never argue against Isiah. Even though you two have never played against one another, are you looking forward to competing against Derrick Rose?
AD: I never played against him because of the injuries, but I’m excited to play alongside him and against him. It’s going to be fun. He can score the ball and he’s a great piece for [Team USA] and him being a Chicago guy is also good. Most guys, when they get hurt, they get real down. But he has that toughness to come back and be the same. That’s big and I’m just excited to play alongside him.