Baron Davis turned 38 just a week or so ago, on April 13, and, naturally, thinking of him put a smile on your face.
It’s funny, you’d come to know and think of Baron Davis as the point guard who never stopped smiling; but the first time you really recall him, he wasn’t.
You were just a teenager, then following the NBA and running home from high school at least once a week to see if the latest SLAM magazine was out. Sixteen years old, you were just beginning to become the person you would become and mostly that came in the form of you showcasing what and who you loved. And you loved basketball, so you read those magazines without fault.
You’d read these for the features, the writing, sure, cause you wanted to go into writing but you also “read” them to move to the next step, i.e. tearing off the cover page and hanging it on your wall. You had them all, the AI one, KG, MJ, Shaq, etc., and then on that day in April 2002 the one with Baron. That issue was with both the Charlotte PG and Paul Pierce on the cover, but your choice was never really up for debate. The Truth this, that, whatever.
No B Diddy, bruh. Smiling—well, mean-mugging on this particular photo but smiling everywhere else.
Davis came to the NBA out of UCLA and joined the Charlotte Hornets as the third pick after Elton Brand and Steve Francis—Davis got jobbed, I don’t care what you say GTFO—in the 1999 NBA Draft. As it is with most, his rookie season was less than stellar: with just 18.6 minutes played per game, that he averaged a shade under six points per game was a minor miracle.
But by his sophomore season? Yeah, B Diddy was cooking. He made the 2002 and 2004 All-Star teams, deserved to win the 2001 NBA Dunk Contest and was good for 22 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists in his prime. He was, for the most part, just a perfectly great and excellent NBA point guard at a time when the position’s boon hadn’t yet happened.
You knew all that then, and it was all cool, but your love story with Baron didn’t come until a few years later.
It didn’t come until your Golden State Warriors fleeced, like, 18 teams in a row to bring to the Bay area the core of who would become the We Believe Warriors. Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington and of course, Baron Davis to go with Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Monta Ellis, the mad scientist, head coach Donnie Nelson, and Andris Biedrins. (A quick aside: you would call Biedrins Prom King ‘cause he always spiked his hair, the same way you would as a teen.)
These Warriors were the Good kid, mAAd City to the current DAMN. iteration of the franchise. (Hey, we’ve all been listening to Kendrick Lamar lately.) You recall fondly those 2006-2009 teams ‘cause you were instantly hooked, a believer. Much like Baron and his All-Star Game snubs in these years, these Warriors have been a little forgotten but their stars still shine as bright as ever in your heart. And Baron was the team’s brightest star.
Maybe it isn’t always true that a team takes after its point guard, but Golden State sure did. If such a thing exists, they played Smile basketball at the Oracle. They never played perfect basketball, and maybe it really was Captain Jack who unlocked the potential to G-State, but these Warriors went as Baron did. And they didn’t always put it together, but when they did they could take on the world.
OH! Baron! Shoves it down! On Kirilenko’s Head!
You were a 20-some-year old then with your ugly Warriors jersey with “DAVIS” and “NO. 5” on the back, and had already developed the character and personality that would make you the man you are today, but you were still working out the kinks then. Much like Baron, who always felt like more than just an NBA player, who felt like he knew he was playing a goddamn game for a living. Basketball isn’t life or death; life or death was what happened off the court, but not on the court. Baron knew he was lucky, so he smiled.
But behind the smile was the story of a kid who grew up with his grandma in South Central Los Angeles and who’d walk from school while dribbling a basketball every step of the way, a kid who eventually transferred to Crossroads where he became friends and classmates with Kate Hudson and Cash Warren. There was the story of the kid who grew up around gangs and gangbangers but who managed to escape, to his refuge and safe haven. To his basketball court.
Davis was beloved in the Bay Area, but he would botch his exit from there; in chasing one big payday at 29 years old, he went from Golden State to his native LA to supposedly make a new superteam with Elton Brand in 2008, only no one had told the Clippers forward who left for Philadelphia.
Davis would (rollerskate and) play two+ mostly average seasons with the then-Donald Sterling’s team, leaving the Clippers in 2011 for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 31-year-old point-guard stick to go with the sweetener of a first round pick (hi, Kyrie Irving!).
The ebullient player who had arrived in the NBA as a beaming sophomore college player had stayed around too long. He had wanted to chase and capture those fleeting moments of joy but he never could. Instead, he had become the butt of the joke; he had become the salary dump, a fate that befell many an NBA player before and since.
But that smile? The smile followed wherever Baron went, even to New York for a miserable stint (hey, it’s the Knicks!) that ended in the worst possible way in the first round of the NBA playoffs: an ACL and MCL tear in his right knee, as well as a tear of his patellar tendon. You squirm reading this, but Baron smiled.
Followed the above mockumentary “Yes really, but not really” NBA comeback video series, in which you saw the future of your favourite player. Despite the occasional One more chance headline, and the contract with the D-League team, Baron never came back to the NBA.
Instead, he’s turned to videos, films, art, etc., and has started making movies. His feature on your favourite player’s favourite summer League, the Drew League, has generally been considered a rousing success and may or may not 😉 be available for streaming online. It’s on Showtime too, if you have a subscription—though here’s the trailer.
In the end, these pseudo mockumentary-style movies about his NBA comeback are a good microcosm of Baron’s NBA career. There were just cheesy and flawed enough that you couldn’t fully take them seriously but you couldn’t really escape them either. And that’s how you like it, messy and just overall fun. And anyway, there was still a TON of things to like in there and some real moments and, like, have you even seen that smile?!
But now Baron’s moved on, to The Drew and elsewhere. He’s still smiling. He’s rocking the Jheri Curl too, but focus on the smile.
“Basketball is the savior. I would always find my place of refuge & my peace being on the 🏀 court.” #TheDrew
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) April 13, 2017
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.
Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.
This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.
On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.
It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?
The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.
The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy…
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Ride The Wave
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things...
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy...
Something Out of Nothing
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