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Who Is Ricky Davis?

If the major roster movements are complete for the offseason, then it may be time to start looking over the roster. We know what to expect from some players. Pierce will be the man. Welsch will be solid. Blount will work hard every night. But there are plenty of variables as well. One of the biggest is Ricky Davis.

Davis seems to have all the talent to be an offensive star in this league. So why do people find him so offensive? (sorry, bad pun) Is it the corn-rows? Is it the triple-double-wrong-basket incident? Is it the missed-dunk incident? Is it the fact that there's too many incidents? Maybe it stems from his begging to get out of Cleveland (even though the LeBron Mealticket had just arrived).

Clearly, nobody in Cleveland misses this guy. Some say that O'Brien may have quit in part because of the Ricky Davis trade (which included losing some of his favorite players). Clearly Peter May sees Davis as the devil-incarnate.

So what gives? What is with all this negative press? Do we submit ourselves to the "where there's smoke, there's fire" theory?

Personally, I'm not close enough to the situation to get any kind of personal feel for the guy, so I'm forced to evaluate from a distance. What I've seen is a guy that hates losing. A guy that was willing (at least for a while) to take a backup role last year. A guy that hustled and seemed to be working harder than his opponent just about every night. A guy that can find the basket with the best of them and happens to be a good passer and rebounder to boot. I even saw him put the defensive clamps down from time to time.

I also hear about him working out like a freak this year. It could be hype, but if he's focused and dedicated, is there anything that will stop him from stepping it up a notch this year? Of course the obvious answer is "himself." He can waste all his talent and hard work by simply living down to his reputation. If he melts down, would it be a stretch to say that Gary wouldn't be far behind? You can be sure the Boston media is taking bets on when this will happen. I'm not saying that I expect it to happen. Just the opposite really.

As an optimist, I see the Ricky Davis that was genuinely thrilled to be involved in his first playoff series last year. I see the guy that could be paired with Payton and Pierce to make one of the best 1-2-3 punches in the East. If everything goes right, we could be looking at a great season and a great story. If not, well...