Pelicans standout will assure you he doesn’t feel any different today
On Monday, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis said it hadn’t hit him yet that he was about to turn 21.
That monumental birthday obviously pales in comparison to his accomplishments of the past two years. After leading Kentucky to the 2012 national championship as a freshman, he became the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, won a gold medal with the USA Olympic basketball team, had a promising rookie year, then was selected to his first All-Star team this past February.
Davis’ birthday is Tuesday.
“I guess people say when you’re 21, you’re a grownup,” he said. “But I’ve been doing grownup things already. I’ve been earning a paycheck, I’m playing in a man’s league, paying bills, filing taxes — everything that people do when they’re grown.
“So I guess that’s why it’s not average for me like an average person who’s 21. I guess that’s why I don’t feel different. (But my twin sister, Antoinette) is pretty excited.”
There has been a lot different about Davis in his second year. He has blossomed into a budding star, taking leadership of the team with one of the best seasons in NBA history; he’s averaging 20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.91 blocks. He said on the first day of training camp that he would be more of a leader, and he has taken that task on for a team ravaged by injuries.
“Obviously he fell into that role because we had so many guys who were hurt,” said forward Ryan Anderson, one of three key players out injured. “But it’s given him the opportunity to explore that role, and he’s done it well, too. Hard to believe he’s only 21. He’s such a mature guy, not just mentally but physically.”
Rather than turning 21, Davis’ mind has been on the Pelicans (26-37) finishing the final stretch of this season strong.
Asked last week whether he wished he were 21, Davis said, “I wish we had some more wins.”
Monday night was to be spent with family, friends and teammates at a local restaurant but was intentionally tame for a 21st bash.
“We’re still in the season,” said Davis, adding he was glad his teammates were there because he considers them family, as much time as they spend together.
With that thought, Davis decided turning 21 was pretty cool after all. It means no more razzing from Anderson and the rest of the Pelicans, he said.
Teammates would invite Davis out then, feigning ignorance, say, “Oh, I forgot you’re only 20. Man, that’s crazy,” Davis said. “Now I can say, ‘No. I’m 21 now, man.’ ”
Davis said his most memorable birthday was his 18th.
“I can’t remember what I did, but that was a key one,” he said. “I was 18; I was halfway legal.”
There’s no doubt what his least favorite one was: That would be his 19th, when Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt on March 11, 2012.
“That was the SEC tournament championship,” he said. “We were here in New Orleans. I was pretty bummed out about that.”