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All-Star Weekend Interview with Anthony Davis on ESPN Radio
In advance of All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, Anthony Davis joined ESPN Radio to talk about his NBA career thus far. Because I value our readers so much, I went ahead and transcribed the interview below. Enjoy!
One of the guys representing his city of New Orleans here at all-star break: in his second year with the Pelicans, #1 pick last season, Anthony Davis. You certainly had a great run; (in) your one year at Kentucky you won a championship & you were the #1 pick. How tough though was the transition from high school quickly to college and then to the pros as an all-star?
Yeah, it was very tough. Definitely high school to college. High school I never lifted weights. Didn’t lift a weight. I didn’t need to because I was much taller than everyone. High school to college was tough. In college, the game was a lot (more) physical. The SEC is a very physical conference, so it had a lot of bigs who pushed me around, and then I got to the league (NBA) and it was twenty times worse. Dwight, David West, & other guys who were strong; Kevin Love, (they) just moved me around, so this offseason I definitely wanted to focus on getting stronger, and I think I did a good job of that putting on 15 pounds. Trying to hold my own down in the paint.
How much has the USA Basketball experience helped you?
It helped me a lot. I had been to the 2012 Olympics with those guys. Teaching me a lot about the game that I didn’t know. Especially not being able to play summer league and be with the team, so that was kind of like my summer league. The new guys taught me a lot, teaching me what it’s going to take to be successful in the league, teaching me how to work, professionalism, everything. The whole nine yards. The guys brought me in like I was a little brother and they definitely told me to just go out there and have fun and work hard, and you’re going to be fine.
What was your reaction when the all-star reserves were announced and you didn’t make it the first time?
Coach Monty called me and said “you didn’t make it”, and I was hurt, he was hurt, family; just knew that I was going to be able to make it. But then I realized that it’s only my second year in the league. I’ll have plenty more opportunities to do so, so I kind of got over it. Then we had a game, so I wasn’t really trying to focus on that, I was trying to focus on winning. Then I got the call a couple weeks later, and they told me that I was going to replace Kobe. That was a great moment. But then I had another game on ESPN against Kevin Love, so I definitely couldn’t focus on it then. But afterwards, it was a great moment for us, and I’m excited to be here.
Why did you take it so hard the first time? Is it because it’s here? Is that kind of the big deal?
Yeah, it was here, and I heard all of the talk “there’s no way he’s not going to make it with the season he’s had.” Especially because it was here in New Orleans and I definitely wanted to play in the all-star game here in New Orleans, so I kind of took it to heard a little bit. But then I was talking to a lot of guys, (who said) “it’s only your second year. You’re going to have a lot more opportunities to do so. My agent was telling me that, my parents, management, so I kind of got over it quick. I just focused on winning more games for us.
Going to London, playing on Team USA in 2012, does that make it any easier, stepping into that Western Conference All-Star locker room?
A lot easier. Being able to play with some of those guys makes it a lot easier. It makes the season a lot easier. Most guys going into their first year, second year, say “oh man, that’s Kevin Durant, that’s Kobe Bryant, that’s LeBron,” whatever, and me, I’m like “what up Kobe”, you know, joking with him because I got a chance to play with him on that team. So it makes it a lot easier and it’ll make the game a lot more fun to play while I’m out there.
What was the biggest thing you learned in London? Not just from the guys, but Coach K, the whole experience. What did you take away from it?
You have to work. People always say “Kobe, LeBron, they don’t have that type of work ethic, they just show up because they’re so much better than everybody.” But to see those guys work, it definitely showed why they’re the best in the league and I’m going to try and follow in their footsteps and do the same thing. Just keep working, because that’s how you become better. Bringing something new each and every year out of the summertime to your game to that season and it all helps.
I know you’re aware of this but I’m just reminding you: you are an NBA All-Star. Forget that voting process and all that. You’re here because you deserve to be here.
Thank you, thank you.
Difference this year vs. last year? NBA season.
I didn’t have that much knowledge. One, I wasn’t as strong as I am now. I had to realize that a lot of guys were going to start keying in on me. Before, I’d still try to force up a shot and didn’t really get my team involved like that. Now, I’m starting to realize that it’s going to come back to you later in the game. I’ll get the ball, two guys come at me, I’ll swing it, and y’all make the shot. Y’all get your shots because then they’ll have to focus on y’all and then leave (me) open at the end of the game and then (I’ll) make a play from there. I’m just really more about winning. If we win, that’s fine. A prime example was last night. I didn’t have my best game, but we won, so it was all fine with me. As long as we’re putting wins in that win column and no Ls in the L column, then it’s all cool with me.
We had this debate amongst ourselves, but now you’re here so you can help us with it. When we talk about defensive player of the year, Roy Hibbert is usually the first guy everyone talks about because Indiana as a team is so good defensively. You, individually, are having a great season defensively, blocking all these shots. Help out someone who has a ballot – how should we judge your game defensively when the Pelicans as a team, are not having a great season defensively, but you’re doing what you’re doing?
It’s different. People can look at it from a team standpoint or an individual standpoint. But we’re a defensive-first team. Right now, we’re not playing our best defense, but when we do, we’re holding teams to 80 points and tough to beat. When we had that homestand, we definitely showed our defensive capability, but sometimes we just don’t guard every night and play with the energy and effort we need to compete on defense because we think we can rely on our offense. We’re too young. But that’s not really up to me, I don’t think, so I just try to go out there and protect the paint. Anybody that comes in there, I try to protect the paint and make sure no one comes in there and gets easy layups.
How confident were you that you could come straight into the NBA and change shots and have that kind of impact inside?
I didn’t think that I would be having this many blocked shots. Guys in the NBA are a lot smarter and know how to use their body well to get shots off. I see Chris Paul do it all the time, Kyrie, Deron Williams. All those guys really don’t get their shots blocked. So I’m like “what am I supposed to do?” It’s more from help side now, when they’re driving and they don’t really see me and I come out of nowhere and try to play them head up and then block their shot.
I just watched a video on YouTube. You threw a ball off the wall, caught it, and windmilled the dunk. When are you going to be part of the dunk contest?
I’m not sure. That was just a little joking around. The whole team was doing it. It just happened. One of the guys caught it and dunked it, and then they said “oh AD, you gotta one-up ‘em!” so it just happened. A lot of people were saying it’s a shot towards LeBron; not at all, whatsoever. We weren’t even thinking about that at that time. It was just all fun. I don’t know, maybe, maybe not, I’m not sure.
We’ll see, maybe next year in New York/Brooklyn possibly.
20 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks a night, outstanding job. First time all-star, thanks for joining us.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.