Q+A: Glen Davis
Big Baby discusses his first season in Orlando, the Dwight Howard saga, the NBA Finals and his new line of signature headphones.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Only a handful of NBA players are recognizable by one name: Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, a few others. It takes an even more unique personality to become synonymous with an otherwise ambiguous nickname, especially for a player whose spent most of his career until now as a reserve. And yet, Glen Davis has done just that. He’s experimented with monikers like “Uno Uno,” a nod to his jersey number, but considering the widespread embrace of his original alias, there’s no turning back now.
“I’m just going with ‘Big Baby’ right now. That’s what I started out with, I’m sticking with it. Can’t shake it. Everywhere I go now it’s like ‘Oh, Baby! Big Baby!’”
Davis came off the bench for the Celtics’ 2008 title team during his rookie season, and became a fan favorite in Boston thanks to his goofy antics and inspired play. He’s had his share of hilarious moments both on and off the court—like labeling he and partner in crime Nate Robinson “Shrek and Donkey”—and become a productive player to boot. After being traded to Orlando before the ’11-12 season in exchange for former Louisiana State University teammate Brandon Bass, Big Baby averaged 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game during the regular season. And with Dwight Howard sidelined late in the season due to injury, the Magic turned to Davis for more scoring. He delivered, scoring a career-high 31 points against Detroit late in the year and posting a team-leading 19 ppg average in Orlando’s five-game first-round Playoff loss to the Pacers.
Recently, Davis partnered with headphone and sound company BiGR Audio to create a headphone exclusive for Glen’s “AYO BABY” brand. BiGR Audio is an environmentally conscious consumer electronics company that has already collaborated with the MLB to create innovative designs for baseball teams, and is now branching out to work with NBA and NFL stars. Big Baby is the first BiGR athlete to launch his own line, and his headphones not only showcase his brand logo, but benefit his charitable foundation, too.
Last week, Baby dialed up the SLAMonline office to discuss a dramatic season in Orlando, his thoughts on the NBA Finals and everything else on his mind. Enjoy the honest conversation below, and hit bigraudio.com or iambigbaby.com to pick up your pair of AYO BABY headphones, which you can preview in the gallery above.
SLAM: What have you been up to since the season ended for you guys?
Glen Davis: I’m just been chilling, kicking it with my family, my fiancé, my daughter. Trying to get rested, get ready for this next upcoming season. Got the Finals going on right now, so hopefully everything will go back on track, we’ll find a new GM and a coach.
SLAM: So have you been watching the Finals? Did you have a prediction going in? Has the series played out the way you thought it would?
GD: I don’t know. I don’t know. You can kind of see the experience of the Miami Heat and the immaturity of the Oklahoma City Thunder. There were some parts of [Game 2] where it’s like, they’re so young. They’ve had bruises through the Playoffs, but as far as Finals, that’s a whole different level. So can they compete on that level? The only person that’s been there and that’s experienced it is Kendrick Perkins. At the end of the day, that’s the only person with Championship experience, he and Derek Fisher. Those guys are going to help them—if they can get through it, those guys will be the key because they know Championship basketball.
SLAM: What kind of guy is Perkins in the locker room? How key was he to the Celtics teams you played on?
GD: He was the glue, man. He blended in with everybody, he’s a wonderful guy off the court. Off the court, he’s just great. He was like a nice soft guy, talking to everybody, likes to hang around everybody. He’s a people person. But then when he gets on the court, he just turns into a big nag. He’s bad. He’s tough, he’s hard, he plays hard.
SLAM: How different is it playing on a frontline with Perk versus now playing with a guy like Dwight Howard?
GD: Well, they’re two different guys. Perkins is more of a creator, he creates a lot of things for other players, as far as setting screens and moving the ball, passing the ball to the next guy. And then his defense is just unbelievable. He’s on-ball, help defense is amazing. And then you’ve got Dwight, who is just a super athlete, athletic guy. He does a little bit of everything. He has the ball so much, it makes him a different type of guy. They’re just two different player, but great players at what they do.
SLAM: Was it tough to watch the Boston-Miami series, considering how integral you were to those Celtics teams as recently as a year ago?
GD: Yeah, I went to two games. I went to go check it out. It was touching, I ain’t gonna lie, it was touching. Just to see those guys battling. I’m one of the last guys from the last nine guys on that 2008 team that won—I was the last guy of the role players to leave. Damn, that’s crazy. Of all the role players on that team I was the last one. It was tough knowing that if I hadn’t have gotten traded, I would have still been there. I’d have been that guy, starting, and helping our team win a Championship. I think the reason I’m glad I went was that now I’m finally at peace. Like OK, I’m not a Celtic anymore. Just to see all those guys, and it being their last game playing together. James Posey was there, too. He was on that 2008 team when we won it. He was at that game. He was probably understanding just like me. And just seeing that team leave. Eddie House probably felt the same way watching the game, PJ Brown probably felt the same way, Sam Cassell—you know all the guys that played and were on that Championship team, to see the core of those guys gone, it’s deep. That’s why Doc was so emotional after the game.
SLAM: This year’s Playoff experience was different for you—not only being on a new team this year but also without Dwight Howard due to injury. What was it like?
GD: It was a tough one. We were dealing with a situation that, us as players, we couldn’t control. All we could control was our play and try to not let those things affect us. That was the tough thing to do, to stay a core group, just stay tight to keep performing at a high level and find our way without Dwight. We got in a rhythm here and there during the season but at the end of the day, during the Playoffs it really didn’t work the way we needed it to work in order to advance. As a team, I’d say I’m proud of my teammates because of the whole year, things were going on and we were still at one point the No. 3 team in the East and playing well. Things took its toll on our team, as far as the camaraderie, the trust—a lot of those things dug us in a hole. So we had to go through a couple games, go through a couple losing streaks to try to catch a rhythm. We caught a rhythm with the team we had out there, and we won some games. We didn’t win as many as we could have because of Dwight being out, but we won some games we were supposed to win and we felt a little bit better about ourselves because we had to re-think who we were as a team, kind of find that confidence. That’s what we did—we found confidence and got one game [against Indiana]. That was better than what other people thought, a lot of people thought we were going to get swept. And we competed, too. We had a couple games that were really, really close, here or there. If I make a shot here or make a shot there, we win the ballgame. So we felt really proud of what we did. One thing Stan [Van Gundy] did before he left was he just touched on that and made sure that everybody knew that he was proud of them and what they’d done, in spite of all that happened. Just having that resolve.
SLAM: Did you feel comfortable playing a larger role with Dwight out, and playing some center?
GD: Yeah, man, I really did. It’s amazing how things work. I didn’t get a chance to have that role at the beginning of the year, and I was kind of down. I just waited for my opportunity, just waited. And then next thing you know, my opportunity came to play a lot of minutes and I just felt at ease, felt comfortable. Like that’s where I’m supposed to be and where I should be. You’ve seen a lot of flashes of me playing at a high level and it’s just, “When he gets his opportunity can he do this 82 games or 16 games straight in the postseason?” So I feel excited about the way I played.
SLAM: You’ve carved out a role as a funny personality in the League, a goofy guy. So when you got the chance, was it important for you to prove to people how serious of a player you are?
GD: Oh, most definitely, because for the first half of the season, people were probably thinking like, “Why did we get him?” I really didn’t play well. I was trying to find my way, trying to find a rhythm, and at the same time I’m thinking in my head like, “Aw, man I should be starting.” The beginning of the year, you feel a certain kind of way, but you fall in your role, and because of the nature of the team, it’s comfortable for the team, so you start getting comfortable and when I stopped worrying about all that, I played well.