Big Baby Grows Up
Glen Davis goofed, but the Cs could be stronger because of it.
File under “famous last words” or “new beginning?” Only time will reveal the answer to this question in the Glen “Big Baby” Davis fisticuffs-gate.
“I feel like I’ve grown up so much this whole summer in terms of being a professional and being an adult,” Davis said. “The Celtics organization is a great thing to be a part of.” Those words were spoken by Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis this past August after signing a two-year contract with the Celtics.
Along came Sunday evening, October 25. It began as a happy occasion with an evening out for Davis, his girlfriend Jenna Gomez and his childhood friend and high school teammate Shawn Bridgewater to celebrate Davis and Gomez engagement. Suddenly a new chapter in Celtics lore was begun with a flourish of punches over an alcohol fueled argument, which ended in a broken right thumb for Davis, a disappointed and angry Celtic owner Wyc Grousbeck and an embarrassed and likely hung over friend in Bridgewater.
Celtics fans hope this will be the closing chapter of Glen Davis arrested development saga and the beginning of the more mature man Davis states he hopes to become as evidence by his press conference comments last Friday, five days after his Monday, 4 a.m. bare knuckles shenanigans:
“This summer was a crucial summer for me, just becoming a professional,” added Davis. ”And then this happened, it was tough thinking about all the hard work I put in. And it just made me realize that I’m not where I need to be. I’m not where I need to be as a professional, because professionals make the right decisions at crucial moments, and at that time I didn’t. I have a lot of work to do in order to be the player that I need to be and also the man I need to be. I’m just happy the Celtics and the team and the fans are willing to let me be that man.”
Moving forward, Glen Davis has his work cut out for him. Words and statements will no longer suffice, but his actions will reveal his depth of genuine feelings to become a better man and better player in this his third year in the NBA.
Big money, big ego, youth, alcohol, drugs or any substance of abuse do not mix well toward comprising an adult attitude. How many times have we seen the pro athlete make a poor choice, let down fans, teammates, owners and, lastly, but only sometimes, themselves? Too many times to count, but for the record let’s begin with some classic NBA all-time poor decisions…
• Roy Tarpley, an extremely talented, potential filled NBA power forward for the Dallas Mavericks who substance abused his way out of millions of dollars and out of the League in the 1980s, attempted a comeback in 1994, the proceeded to violate the League’s substance policy and was dealt a lifetime ban from the NBA, which was recently resolved with an out of court settlement.
• A similar story resounds for Michael Ray Richardson, an All-Star guard in the late 1970s early 80s with the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.
• Rebounding king “The Worm,” Dennis Rodman made many a blunder and absorbed many a suspension with his absurd behavior throughout the late 80s into the 90s and new millennium.
• Celtic Paul Pierce nearly died after being attacked in a Boston Night-club on 2000 and being stabbed 11 times at 1 a.m., with one of the wounds coming only about an inch from claiming his life.
• Larry Bird broke a finger in a 1985 bar room brawl during the NBA Playoffs and quite probably significantly altered the outcome of what might have been a fourth world championship in Birds quiver.
• Rudy Tomjanovich ran toward Kermit Washington, who turned and punched Rudy T in the face during an NBA skirmish during the 1977 season not knowing who or what or why somebody was fast approaching him during a fight, but Washington reacted, nearly killed Tomjanovich and it’s safe to say that neither man has ever been the same again (this horrific punch was as nauseating to view as Joe Theismann breaking his leg against the NY Giants in November 1985.
• Ron Artest went into the stands to avenge a fan that threw beer at him and prompted a full scale player – fan brawl when he was with the Indiana Pacers.
The NBA as well as professional sports everywhere is strewn with player fines, player suspensions and other actions based on in-game and outside of game actions based on poor decisions. The ledger of NBA players involved in various bad decision related incidents is strewn with all stars, journeymen and players at all levels in between. Many of those involved reads like a who’s who of American basketball: David Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, Len Bias, Walter Davis and so many more. Some have recovered and thrived while others have literally died.
While the Bible states, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone,” it becomes increasingly difficult when that thought is incorporated against the axiom that truly fits all most pro athletes “to those much is given, much is expected.”
Glen Davis broken thumb required surgery last Tuesday and his self-inflicted injury will shelve him for 6-8 weeks. It‘s been said that in adversity there is opportunity. The ’09-10 NBA season is an enormous opportunity for the Boston Celtics, Glen Davis, Boston Celtics Owners and Celtics fans. While many Celtics fans are predicting a serious run at championship banner No. 18, how Glen Davis uses his ridiculously foolish injury to motivate himself to be the man and player he wants to be will hold the key to this hope filled early season.
Equally as important as Glen Davis attitude will be how Davis teammates react to this incident and whether they band together through this incident and fully support Davis as he recovers and eventually rejoins the team on the court.
During the Friday press conference Big Baby apologized to Celtics fans, the owners and to his teammates for his actions, calling it a “stupid mistake and something he has learned from” Celtic President and championship player from the 1980s Danny Ainge stated what many parents have uttered to their children after some unfortunate late night transgressions “nothing good ever happened after midnight.”
While Celtic owners and management emotions ran high immediately following the incident and they were originally considering a possible long-term suspension (who among us were not thinking somewhere between a Rodman-esque 11 games or the full Artest of 73 games) at this writing the Celtics have fined Davis an undisclosed sum and will keep him in the fold and part of practices and meetings and part of the team while his thumb heals.
The fact that cooler heads have prevailed among Celtics brass is not surprising as the Celtics owners have achieved vast success in their respective business pursuits outside the Celtics equally as much as they have restored a championship attitude, championship caliber players and championship caliber style while renewing Celtics fans hope and energy on par with the teams lead by the likes of Cousy, Russell, Havlicek, Bird, McHale, Parish, Pierce, Garnett and so many other alumni.
In fact, the “Big Ticket” Kevin Garnett may hold the key to any positive transition that Glen Davis makes this season and how Davis deals with his adversity. Garnett is a player who falls under “to whom much is given, much is expected” and deliver on all expectations is exactly what Garnett has done throughout his stellar career.
It’s been reported that when Big Baby arrived in Boston, Garnett patiently (or perhaps not so patiently) addressed directly with Davis the fact that Davis must address and check his ego, lose weight and improve his work ethic and professionalism. While Garnett sat out with a knee injury during the second half of last season, it seems with increased playing time with the first unit, the coaching, advice and developmental assistance Garnett gave to Davis began to pay handsome dividends: Big Baby’s stats soared from 7 ppg to 15 ppg during the Playoffs.
Although the Celtics eventually lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Championships, the 2009 Playoffs were a time when all was good in the world for Big Baby. He truly rose to the occasion with his play when his minutes increased due to injuries to not only Garnett, but also to Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine.
Glen Davis must take the next step in his NBA development and begin to act upon the words he has spoken about growing up and growing serious about his game and livelihood.
It’s unlikely that the Boston Celtics “Big 3” will accept anything less from Glen Davis. You only have to look through history to see who has overcome similar bouts of adversity during their careers. Glen Davis now ranks with Celtics legend Bird and near legend Pierce (perhaps another championship or two might cement the legend description for Pierce) and many other NBA greats in terms of experiencing self inflicted off the court trauma through bad personal decisions. Fans can only hope that Davis rises to the level that some of the games greats did to raise not only their game performance but also their maturity level.
In the end there are various schools of thought on this entire issue, some believe Davis is guilty of a monumentally poor decision, while others believe this matter to have been blown out of proportion by a 24/7 news cycle thriving on every morsel of action. We are nearly at a two-week anniversary of this event and the live-and-learn philosophy would seem to be the most logical position in this case, with time being the great equalizer in healing this wound, thumb and otherwise.
After all is said and done this particular event could be a galvanizing event for the Celtics, making the team chemistry and Glen Davis stronger. At its’ core this is a championship team and how they deal with the speed bump of a momentary indiscretion will speak volumes about whether banner No. 18 will make an appearance in the Garden in 2010.
*** Research and quotes used in this article compiled from NBA.com, Celtics.com, BostonHerald.com, MiamiHerald.com, CNN.com, AP, Masshole Sports and “Bnet”, basketbawlful.com.