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Davis Antics Get Slammed
Davis's antics get slammed
By Peter May, Globe Staff, 3/11/2004
He did something similar last Sunday and got roundly booed. But that was on the road, in Minnesota, and the fans at the Target Center let Ricky Davis know they didn't appreciate a showboat dunk, a dunk that involved stopping on the way to the hoop just to make sure no one was around.
He did the same thing last night, but with a different result. He stole the ball and, again checking that no one was near him, went in for a between-the-legs windmill jam against the Lakers. Except he missed. The ball caromed off the glass and back out near the Los Angeles bench, where Davis, unfazed, retrieved it, went back in, and still had time for a second, routine windmill dunk.
"Just missed a dunk, that's all," he shrugged, following the Celtics' 117-109 loss to the Lakers last night. "Got it back. Just a missed dunk, like a dunk guys miss all the time on the fast break. [I] try a trick dunk, that's what I do. I'm not really worried
about the fans. I'm worried about winning games." Pressed more on the subject, he said, "I'm off that. Next question."
The missed dunk/retrieval dunk came early in the third quarter. But that wasn't all. In the fourth quarter, he followed up a miss with a slam dunk, hung briefly on the rim while spinning, then came back up the floor with a finger raised to the sky. There were 2 1/2 minutes left and the Celtics were down by 9 points. A few seconds later, the Celtics were down by 11.
For his play last night, which consisted of 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals in 39 minutes, Davis was named the Celtics' player of the game. It was a lot of what makes Davis so enticing. His shot was falling (10 of 17, including 6 of 6 in the first half) and he was clearly into things. He even picked up a technical at the end of the first quarter for jawing with Laker Brian Cook.
But the missed dunk/theatrics underscores the other side of Davis, the side where his fierce competitiveness sometimes crosses over into something bordering on boorishness. Colleague Bob Ryan suspected that the over-under line for liking the play of Antoine Walker was 30 years. I'd say the same thing probably applies here.
Davis sometimes can be a showman in search of a show and, as he noted, he really doesn't care if it comes across as anything other than entertainment. He clearly savors the limelight -- he might even have seen an owner or two do one of those "we're not worthy" gestures after one of his jams.
"It comes with the territory," Lakers forward Rick Fox said of Davis. "He's nothing if not consistent. I don't think he sold anybody a bill of goods here. You either find teammates who can play with him or get him to play with the teammates that are there."
Were the Lakers miffed by Davis's antics?
"No, not really," Fox said. "We have too many problems of our own to worry about Ricky Davis. He would be pretty far down the totem pole on our team."
Kobe Bryant, who, like everyone else, watched Davis go in for the missed dunk, said, "That shocked everybody. It was like he was having his own private slam dunk contest. He was just trying to entertain. I don't see anything wrong."
Bryant, a slam dunk champion once upon a time, was asked if he would attempt such a move now. He shook his head, noting his age, not his ability.
Other Lakers weighed in with similar reactions. They know Davis and who he is and how he plays and, well, no one was surprised or upset by the moves.
"He has the athletic ability and it's all part of his flair and personality," said Derek Fisher. "His sense of timing might not have been the best, but I guess he knew he had enough time to get it back [when he missed]. Look, Ricky plays with a lot of emotion and sometimes we all let our emotions get the best of us."
Davis's 24 points represented the seventh time this season he has scored 20 or more points since coming to the Celtics in the now famous Dec. 15 deal with Cleveland. (Think the Cavaliers miss him? They won again last night.) Of those seven games, the Celtics have lost six, even though Davis is averaging nearly 24 points while shooting 67 percent.
When Danny Ainge faced the music after making the Davis deal, he called Davis "a spectacular talent." He also said he was hopeful that Davis's past (the triple-double fiasco, the inability to get along with coaches and teammates) was, indeed, behind him. Ainge said he thought that Davis, still only 24, had grown up.
Based on what we've seen so far, Davis hasn't changed much at all.
) Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.