Stephen Curry and LeBron James may have earned the loudest cheers at Saturday’s NBA All-Star media day at Bojangles Coliseum on Saturday, but Anthony Davis made the most noise with his comments.
Davis, the New Orleans forward who publicly requested a trade away from the Pelicans in January, has been at the center of NBA discussions for weeks. With his contract due to expire after the 2019-2020 season, Davis’ trade request also meant that any team acquiring him would have to sell the six-time All-Star on signing with that same team long term. Until now, the teams Davis reportedly would sign a long-term contract with were the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Notably absent? The Boston Celtics.
But Saturday, when asked about the Celtics and why they were not on his list, Davis changed course.
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“They are on my list,” he said.
Because of a highly-specific NBA rule, the Celtics are prohibited from trading from Davis until this summer (when guard Kyrie Irving can opt out of his contract and re-sign with the team on a new deal). But with Davis’ comments Saturday, it appears Boston might be a potential destination for him this summer after all.
Not everything from media day was as newsworthy as Davis’ comments, but several other things stood out:
▪ One of the main attractions this All-Star Weekend is Saturday night’s 3-point contest, which sports Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker against a number of the NBA’s best shooters. Included in that group are the Curry brothers, Stephen and Seth — and between the two of them there’s a lot on the line.
Stephen, of the Golden State Warriors, and Seth, a guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, had a side bet going on Saturday night’s contest: Whoever loses between the two of them has to buy all the family tickets whenever they play each other in the future.
“Considering how many people show up for our games,” Stephen said, “the stakes are high.”
▪ On Friday, the NFL and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced that they had reached a settlement in his (and Panthers safety Eric Reid’s) collusion case against the league. Kaepernick and Reid had sued the NFL, claiming the league’s owners colluded to blackball both players from the NFL after they began a protest against racial and social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Multiple NBA players Saturday re-iterated their support for Kaepernick — who remains unsigned — including James and Dwyane Wade, but Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins was especially outgoing in his support.
“I think it’s super important (that we support him),” Collins said. “To be doing what he’s doing, taking a risk as he is... I feel like all the football players should support what he’s doing. I definitely support him, even though I’m in another sport, but I definitely support his movement. “
▪ Irving, who makes his fair share of waves with the media, was refreshingly pensive Saturday, especially when discussing his personal growth.
“I started listening to myself, that’s really what it comes down to,” Irving said. “I stopped listening to everyone else telling me who I was supposed to be — a scorer, a passer, this, he’s not as good as this. I’m a great player and I know that. Nobody else is going to take that away from me. I go as far as I take myself, and once I had that confidence inside of me and I believed it every single day, and nothing was taken away from it, then it made this a lot easier, to just be who I am and really be the person I’m destined to be.
“Honestly, nobody can tell me who I’m going to be.”
▪ Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin was the last rookie to make the All-Star Game, one of a number of findings from a recent Observer data analysis. While there have still been rookies involved in the All-Star discussion — namely Donovan Mitchell and Luka Doncic the past two seasons — Griffin said that sometimes those players are the victims of a numbers game more than anything else.
“I was fortunate to make it my first year,” he said. “It’s nothing they’re doing — they’re having great seasons. There’s 12 spots on every team, and it’s very, very, very tough to make an All-Star team. But obviously for years to come, those guys will be in it.”
▪ Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green, who won a national championship as a senior at UNC in 2009, was fairly open about the importance of former players returning to their alma maters... even if a busy schedule means that isn’t as often as it once was.
“I try to get back as much as I can, trying to get back even more now,” Green said. “In the summers, it’s important for our guys to have that foundation, because we had it when we (were there) — in the summertime, they always came back and always helped us, so I think it’s important for guys like myself to come back and help those younger guys understand the game, and grow, and learn about life, and play pickup with them.”
▪ This weekend has been something of a homecoming for Milwaukee Bucks wing Khris Middleton, who is making his first All-Star appearance not far from his hometown of Charleston, S.C. “It’s great to be home, or at least close to home,” he said. “The closest I can be to home here in Charlotte, so that’s great for me to have a lot of family and friends come down to hang out with me. For it to be my first All-Star experience is special, and being close to home makes it even more.”