Glen Davis has been telling reporters for years that he doesn’t want to be referred to as ‘Big Baby’ any longer. Out of respect for his wishes, I have come up with a new nickname: ‘Big Understudy’.
The guy is the most remarkable player in the NBA (whatever that means, Knez). Okay, if you don’t like this one try enigmatic? or how about ‘yeastful’?…..the guy just rises to the task.
Back in 2009, when Kevin Garnett was lost to a knee injury, Davis stepped into KG’s spot and played up to the star-studded starting lineup of the Boston Celtics. There was nobody better in green that playoff run (beating Chicago in 7, losing to the Magic in 6). Davis averaged just 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds that year, but it was quality over quantity. He was taking and making huge big shots in the fourth quarter. Instead of bowing down to guys like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, he stepped up to their level of play and confidence. Doc Rivers even went to him for a dramatic game-winner…in Orlando of all places.
This year, with Dwight Howard out, Glen is up to his old tricks. Is he a center? is he a forward??…he’s just a basketball player. After three games vs the Indiana Pacers he is undoubtedly the Magic’s best player and also their leader. With Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu shades of their former selves, the team is feeding off Glen’s play-making and energy on both ends of the floor. He is averaging 18 pts & 9 rebs this time around in a starring role (Nelson is the next guy averaging just 13). If it wasn’t for him, Stan Van Gundy would again be answering questions about Dwight while facing a sweep.
Just like an understudy on Broadway, he goes from doing very little for the cast to doing it all in the snap of a finger. It’s a good look for the former LSU standout. The guy is all but forgotten when he’s a sub…it’s almost like he’s destined for greater things.
Guys like Glen Davis make the NBA what it is. Sure he isn’t the most consistent basketball player or the most “mature” (who is?), but when the lights go on and big things are expected he delivers. ‘Understudy’ has a charisma about him that is as valuable to David Stern as all the numbers and highlights. Tim Duncan, on paper, is one of the top players of all time…but his quiet and humble personality make him easier to forget. Charles Barkley, who had four rings fewer than Duncan (zero to be exact) will be remembered far longer than Timmy. Why? it’s simple…personality.
Who knows what the future holds for Orlando’s roster (I blame Superman) but wherever Glen Davis is next year he needs to be starting and needs to be allowed to do what he does best on the court: be aggressive, make plays, and rise to the moment…..like yeast.