Anthony Davis

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Anthony Davis forfeited any ‘right’ to play for Pelicans by leaving mid-game

Thank you, next.

Seth Dunlap
February 15, 2019 - 5:03 pm
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Wasn’t this how the Anthony Davis era in New Orleans would always inevitably end, with Davis walking off the court with yet another injury, unlikely to ever play for the Pelicans again?

Davis, one of the most oft-injured stars in the history of the NBA, has been dealing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder since 2013.  Last night, he collided with Thunders player Nerlins Noel as he attempted to block Noel’s shot.  Davis would saunter to the sidelines, slightly favoring his shoulder, and wouldn’t return to the game. 

That part is understandable, both from Davis’ perspective and that of the Pelicans franchise.  The organization couldn’t risk further injury to a player whose only real value to them anymore is on the trade market, and Davis gains nothing himself by playing injured while in a uniform he no longer wants to wear.

What happened after is not understandable, nor acceptable.  Davis, with agent Rich Paul in tow, would leave the Smoothie King Center, followed by TNT cameras, in the third quarter.  He left his teammates behind.  He left the fans behind.  He left Gayle Benson and this franchise behind.

It was quite the about-face from a player who has prodded the NBA to force the Pelicans to let him play through this sage.  Remember, the Pelicans didn’t want Davis to suit up for them again after he demanded a trade three weeks ago.  It was the NBA, and Commissioner Adam Silver, who were forcing the Pelicans to play him, despite their objections, citing “integrity of the game.”

What kind of integrity did Anthony Davis show last night?  It was a classless, cowardly decision to very literally walk out on his teammates last night after he proverbially walked out on them after his trade demand.  Juvenile, immature, and selfish are just a few of the words that come to mind in describing the situation.  A few more profane descriptors were certainly used inside the Pelicans front office last night.

Owner Gayle Benson was reportedly furious at the situation, watching a player – no, a man – who she asked to be a pall bearer at her husband’s funeral show a complete lack of respect for her, and the organization she runs.   Benson vented her frustration today by firing General Manager Dell Demps, and beginning the process of the much-anticipated organizational rebuild.

Davis’ trade request was reasonable.  This petulant, childish behavior is not.  Don’t blame this one of Rich Paul, Klutch Sports, Magic Johnson, or LeBron James.  It was Davis’ decision last night to walk out on the team mid-game.  He now owns that decision wholly.

That decision will undoubtedly have a deleterious effect on his ability to get back on the court this season.  Maybe he never wanted to.  Perhaps this was all some side show orchestrated by Davis and his representatives, who had to be aware of the resulting fallout.  The reasons don’t matter.  Anthony Davis will almost assuredly never be allowed back in a Pelicans uniform again.

If the NBA tries to force them to play Davis after the All-Star break, they can claim conduct detrimental to the team.  If Davis and the league balk at that stance, and cites some nonsense reasoning like his shoulder injury, then the Pelicans can simply claim they are holding him out due to injury.   The NBA has lost all leverage in this situation, as has Davis.

It’s been reported for weeks that Gayle Benson is ready to assume a strong, commanding leadership role with the Pelicans.  Demps’ firing was her opening salvo as she takes control of this situation.   For far too long have the Pelicans been subservient to the NBA, its commissioner, and powerful people in other organizations.   Those days, mercifully, seem to be over.

Goodbye Anthony Davis, and good riddance.  Your legacy is now tarnished beyond any immediate repair.  This city and fan base embraced you as 19 year old fresh faced basketball phenom.  They defended and protected your legacy through nearly seven years of consistent on-court futility.  Most even agreed and empathized with you when, three weeks ago, you said you no longer wanted to be here.  It’s now apparent this was a one-sided love affair, and any good will you accumulated quickly evaporated with each step you took towards the Smoothie King Center exit last night.

Thank you, next.

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