In his role as an NBA All-Star Jam Session ambassador, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis played a part in a scavenger hunt Saturday.
He and fellow ambassadors Austin Rivers and Tyreke Evans provided clues via Twitter for fans who followed to win the prizes. Evans participated although he is out ill.
The clues led fans to three destinations — Champions Square, Lafayette Square and finally Manning’s — with prizes at each stop for the first 10 to get there. Davis awaited at the final destination with tickets, basketballs and Pelicans apparel and also signed pictures of himself.
The best part, he said, was the fans’ reaction when they saw him.
“The reaction was like they were shocked,” he said. “I used to have the same reaction on my face when I met guys I looked up to.
“So, it was kind of weird being on the other side.”
Fan Sterling Tucker said he was a little slow when it came to the first two clues and didn’t win a prize. The third clue was “The perfect place to eat and drink and cheer. Find us at the home of the @Pelicans NBA watch parties.” He figured that one out quickly and got two Jam Session tickets and a T-shirt.
When fans got to the table where Davis sat, they picked an envelope. Michael Conway picked the one with the golden ticket, which netted a signed Davis jersey and tickets. It was awesome, he said, because he and his brother went to Kentucky, where Davis played. They are in town for an auto show.
Only problem is, they go back home Monday and won’t be here for All-Star Game weekend.
Lizzie Nguyen and John Dearc put their heads together and got prizes at all three destinations, netting tickets to the Jam Session and the Rising Stars Game as well as a signed All-Star basketball and T-shirts.
“It’s a great vibe,” Davis said. “It’s a little cold in New Orleans, and they’ve been going all around the city the past couple of hours looking for clues. And to see them come here, ‘Oh, we’re big fans! We watched the game last night. How’s your hip doing?’
“One person tried to get me to give him the answer to the clues on (Twitter). I plan on being here … so we try to have as much fun as we can with them so they can come to the games and cheer us on.”
When the USA national team reports for training camp in July, an interesting battle to watch likely will be at power forward between lengthy wonder Davis and Los Angeles Clippers physical beast Blake Griffin.
As the team starts preparations for the FIBA World Cup in Spain on Aug. 30-Sept. 14, it will be pared down to a smaller group for the camp from the 28 players announced in the pool, according to USA Basketball.
The way coach Mike Krzyzewski gushes about Davis and all the possibilities he brings to the team, he can be expected to be among the smaller group of players picked for the training camp. It seems he just needs to continue playing well this season and not have a serious injury.
However, Griffin likely will be in that number, too. Remember, he made the 2012 Olympic team, only to have a knee injury in training camp that didn’t allow him to play.
That’s when Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, was added. He did well and, more important, learned a lot, and has continued to work hard and grow.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams and the Chicago Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau joined the USA team’s coaching staff last summer for its mini-camp.
Working with Hall of Fame coaches Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Williams came ready to learn.
USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo said Williams was like a sponge, which he said he would be upon being added to the staff.
“One of the things that really impressed me after we made a decision to offer him that opportunity was that in every meeting we had, Monty had his pad out and was taking notes on everything that was being said,” Colangelo said.
Williams joked, he was “like the husband in a marriage.”
“I just sat and listened most of the time,” he said. “Most of what I do is try to figure out how I can make those guys look good. It’s an honor to be on that staff, so I try not to make it bigger than that.”
Colangelo said he likes Williams’ work ethic, his youthful perspective and the fact he played in the NBA and possibly relates to players on a different level. However, he also left the door open for changes on the staff, noting in particular Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan, who were on the 2012 staff.