Million Dollar Baby
Glen Davis proves to be a valuable piece in the Celtics’ championship push.
by Rudy Raya
Size kills in the NBA. Though they try to downplay the idea in youth leagues and basketball teams across the country, a big man can make all the difference. But where most others lack in height, they make up for it in speed. Somewhere in between short and speedy, and tall and terrifying lies Glen Davis. Despite having a body more resembling that of an offensive lineman than a professional basketball player, Glen Davis stands tall amongst the forest of big men in the NBA. With a wealth of experience behind him and confidence to boot, Davis has taken the step from role player to a possible Sixth Man of the Year candidate on one of the most talented teams in the League.
Ever since his college days, Glen Davis has been a player who sticks out. Whether it was his physically aggressive play or his protruding pudginess, something about Glen Davis stuck out. An athletic anomaly in sport of basketball, Big Baby’s size makes him a tough cover all around.
“I’m a guy that can get you some points in the post, a guy that can hit big shots and spread the floor,” said Davis. “A good team defender with taking charges and being there for the next guy.”
Whether he is cannon-balling his way into the defense for put-backs or hitting his increasingly reliable Pamper’s Pull-up jumper, Big Baby makes teams adjust to him and not the other way around. Beyond his gift of girth, or rather beneath it, lies the most effective weapon in his arsenal: “My heart, of course my body, but first my heart. I just go out there and get it done,” says Davis.
Much like his baby teeth, growing pains have come and gone in Glen’s young career. While Davis hasn’t reached his full potential just yet, his production this season has increased immensely. His modest career averages have almost doubled across the board with Davis tallying an impressive 12 points and 5 rebounds a game.
“I think everybody in this League wants to be a starter, and I think he understands that on this team he can’t be, so it makes it easier,” said Coach Doc Rivers. “He just keeps working on his shot and I think it’s another year of maturing. You can’t see it, but he’s in a little better shape [laughs]. I think each year he gets better, and he’s putting in the work.”
The significantly slimmer Glen Davis now has the speed to beat most bigger guys and impeccable strength that makes him almost impossible to back down on the block. Now in the fourth year of his brief but successful career, Davis has elevated his game to another level, making him an even more deadly factor in Boston’s already stacked lineup. Just the thought of Big Baby barreling his way into the post like a bowling ball should strike fear in the hearts of the Anthony Randolphs and Greg Odens of the League. Guarding this new fleet of foot Big Baby has become full-time job; fragile frontcourt players need not apply.
“I just try to perfect the things that I do well and mentally be there for my teammates when they need me. Trying to stay with the same method, but work a bit harder,” he said.
With all the veteran presence that Boston has accrued lately comes the wear and tear from all those years of experience. Injuries to Kevin Garnett, Shaq, Kendrick Perkins and the eternally sidelined Jermaine O’Neal have given Davis a myriad of minutes in a formerly glutted frontcourt. Part of being a true benefactor off of the bench includes always being ready to step in and contribute. While most other bench players would simply kick back and ride their future Hall of Famer teammates all the way to the postseason, Big Baby has climbed out of his car seat and into the driver seat, keeping the Celtics on course for another Playoff run.
His post-season heroics have been witnessed by everyone, including his now famous drooling jubilation in last year’s Finals, but Davis feels like he is still underestimated when it comes to his abilities and ultimately his potential as a player.
“I’ve been in the League for four years now and I’ve accomplished some good things, to a point where guys have to respect me, but at the same time I still feel like I don’t get the respect that’s needed, so I’m always playing with a chip on my shoulder,” Davis said.
While the young big man is hungry as ever, hopefully he keeps chips on his shoulders and out of his mouth. Though salivating at the chance to break out, Davis knows that for the time being he is still taking a backseat to the Rondo & Co. Show. Nevertheless he can sense that his time is coming, but for now he’s still taking the time to learn the game.
“I’m on the level of graduation. It’s my fourth year in the League and I’ve been through so many classes. It’s almost time to graduate to that next level,” says Davis. “But I still consider myself as a young player, like a young adult. I’m still wet behind the ears a little bit.”
That same drive that has powered him early in his career continues to push him toward newer and greater goals. While he may not be the tallest player in the League, or even on his own team, Big Baby knows that with hard work the heights to which he can take his game are beyond the limits of any high chair or booster seat.
“I think I can be an All-Star. It’s just the way that I play the game. One day I can be a guy in this League to be reckoned with. It’s just about growing right now. Making sure that I put the work in, because once you do, the stuff that you can reap it is even better. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”