NORTH CHARLESTON Charlotte Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has a perma-smile, so you judge his mood by the width of his grin.
Asked about ex-Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis Thursday, Kidd-Gilchrist all but glowed.
“My best, best friend,’’ MKG said. “He’s my brother. So close.’’
These two seem inseparable. First they led the Wildcats to the national championship. Then they went first and second in June’s NBA draft, the first pair of college teammates to go 1-2 in NBA history.
So it felt appropriate they should face off in back-to-back exhibitions at the start of their rookie seasons. Davis’New Orleans Hornets won a home game Tuesday night. The rematch was Thursday at North Charleston Coliseum.
Even if they’re never teammates again, there’s a kinship that is palpable.
“That was a strong brotherhood. Such a bond,’’ Davis said of the link between he, Kidd-Gilchrist and three other freshmen who won the title, then turned pro.
Davis chuckled when asked if he’d have predicted all this.
“Scared to play, nervous about every game,’’ Davis said of last season. “We never would have thought at that moment’’ going 1-2 in the 2012 draft.
Talented as that team was – Kentucky ultimately had six players drafted, four in the first round – Davis said the Wildcats got a running start from the NBA lockout. Ex-Wildcat (and ex-Bobcat) Nazr Mohammed convinced teammates from the Oklahoma City Thunder to come to Lexington for pickup games against current Kentucky players.
The experience – Davis guarding Kevin Durant, for instance – was invaluable.
“We got to see each other play, saw our strengths and weaknesses, before Coach (John Calipari) even got on the court,’’ Davis recalled. “Those pickup games against pro guys made us so much closer.’’
Davis is the flashier one: A former high school guard whose 7-inch growth spurt turned him into a swooping shot-blocker. Kidd-Gilchrist is more rugged and more self-contained.
“He doesn’t try to do anything he isn’t able to do. He won’t go out there trying to break somebody’s ankles,’’ Davis said. “He’s a slasher, he’ll play defense, and you can count on him playing hard 24-7.’’