Hi. My name is Zach and I’m a Ricky Davis fan.
I guess it all started back in the lockout-shortened season of 1999. I was young — still in high school and looking for any highlight video I could find. SportsCenter was something I never missed because the thrill of the dunk, the crossover, the game-winning shot was such a jolt of excitement that I quickly got hooked on big plays like I never had before.
I was beginning to enter a stage in my life in which athleticism was a probability to some degree. I was 17 years old, playing basketball every day and moving toward a goal of getting my hand several inches above a suspended orange circle. To see these dunks happen on television every night was a glimpse into where I wanted to travel. When we had a new wave of dunkers come in the early and mid-90s (Harold Miner, Isaiah Rider, whatever the hell Tony Dumas was trying to do in dunk contests), I was only about 12 or 13 years old, incapable of understanding how athleticism was achievable.
During the lockout season, Vince Carter and Jason Williams were the talk of the NBA. J-Will was thrilling everybody with unfathomable passes from all angles; Vince Carter was dunking from impossible situations and with gyrations that probably inspired Shakira to tell us that hips are truth-tellers. And while I enjoyed these two rookies and their highlight exploits every night, I was quickly being subconsciously courted by an afterthought rookie in Charlotte.
The pogo sticks that existed in Ricky Davis’ lower legs were well hidden. They were only evident when he would pounce to the rim with the quickness of a lion and the ferocity of… well… a lion. Basically, it was like watching a lion play basketball. There was never an all out sprint and hustle to everything he did. It wasn’t out of laziness. It was the thrill of the chase. Put up an errant shot as a teammate of Ricky and you could see him stalk the carom before snatching it from the outstretched reaches of Amazonian trees and flushing away the hopes of a defensive stop with a putback dunk.
Ricky’s gait was as calculated as it was natural. He was too smooth and docile to be heralded by opposition and too explosive to be accounted for when he decided to make a play. There were buckets to be gotten and his job was to get buckets by the plethora.
Ricky Davis was cocky and yet unassuming. He’d fly in for a dunk, pull up for a big jumper, throw down a putback slam and respond with more self-aggrandizing fervor than a presidential campaign. He showed out like only few knew how to do, but it wasn’t out of ego. There were times in which he looked down at the rim, jumped over another player, contorted his body within three seconds of flight that never seemed possible; we were impressed with the feats and it was unruly to assume he shouldn’t be either.
(Warning: Music on the video is NSFW)
Flair was never premeditated and always instinctual. It wasn’t showing out in selfish form because it was never planned to be that way. Showmanship was natural because Ricky Davis was a showman. He played for fun. He tried to make spectacular plays because that’s what people enjoyed. He ran with the And 1 Mixtape Tour when they came to town because he wanted to enjoy basketball during the offseason as he did when the big lights were on.
He’d throw down an offensive rebound after stalking the miss from the other side of the floor and put his finger to his lips to quiet down the crowd or confirm himself to be the night crawler we just witnessed. He would catapult his way over defenders, throw down a dunk and casually walk away. It wasn’t brashness but a realization that he’s done these things before and needed to compose himself as such.
He once jumped over Steve Nash as the future MVP tried to set himself for absorbing a charging foul. He finished the play with a powerful dunk, got the foul called in his favor and looked into the crowd. He exclaimed, “OH SHIT!” to the fans, then looked into the camera for the viewers at home and screamed it again. Was it posturing? Or was it the epiphany that he just did something most people could only dream of?
Ricky Davis was a dreamer. He was someone who always wanted to accomplish more. It was presumptuous for him to assume he would ever be more than he was, but without that fire and desire for recognition, he wouldn’t have gotten to where he was in the first place. Call Ricky Davis selfish for his wants of accomplishment and I’ll call you a hypocrite.
Did he try to unjustly get a triple-double one night against the Jazz? I’m not one to point fingers at a man for thinking outside of the box. Without this kind of thinking, we wouldn’t have computers, windmills, applesauce or hybrid cars. He tried to troubleshoot an idea in order to garner your approval. You praised triple-doubles whenever they happened and all he wanted was your recognition and acceptance. It’s unjust to treat him poorly for wanting what you love to celebrate.
Ricky Davis was a scorer by nature. He had the same goal that his teams had: outscore the opponent by the time the game is over. Sometimes, basketball is as simple as that. Sometimes, basketball simply is a urinating contest and few players could urinate farther than Ricky.
Ricky Davis has always been one of my favorites because flair and entertainment are why we all come to see what the NBA has to offer. There is often more to it and there is often less to it than that. You take from the game what you want and what I wanted to see on a nightly basis was for Ricky Davis to set himself apart from other entertainers.
Part of recovering from an addiction is first realizing you have a problem. I came here today not to type out these words and admit that I have a problem when it comes to Ricky Davis. This post is for you to understand that YOU in fact have the problem. Ricky was here for your enjoyment, not for your crass judgment.
Most looked at Ricky Davis and saw a brazen, young man with no regard for team play. He was unfairly judged as selfish and out to get his. I saw him as an entertainer, here to fill our heart with YouTube-able sensations to remind us that at the core of every basketball fan and analyst is a kid hoping to discover athleticism.
Ricky Davis got buckets because there were buckets to be gotten. Don’t be mad at him because you chose to go against your own unbridled enthusiasm and not be a fan.
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