Every time I see the name Ricky Davis in print, it is always close to the words "me-first," "selfish," or "cancer." Every time I hear his name out loud, I know the next thing I'm going to hear is "triple double." Given his recent success as a 6th man, writers and commentators have been forced to refer to him either as "maturing"
player, or even as the "so far well behaved" Ricky Davis.
Enough already! What has this man done to warrant the negativity that surrounds him? I've asked Cavs fans, I've asked NBA fans, shoot, I've even met the man and looked into his eyes. I'm not saying this as a crazed fan who's gaga over a player on his favorite team. I'm talking about this from the rational perspective of a writer that can't see what the fuss is all about.
For example, I picked up this week's issue of SI and found the only reference to the Celtics to be a backhanded compliment to Davis. It claims that "Doc Rivers keeps him on a short leash, taking him out whenever his shooting or emotions veer out of control." Umm, what? First of all, Doc has taken every player from Paul to Justin Reed out for taking bad shots. Big deal. Secondly, when has he been taken out of the game for letting his emotions "veer out of control?" Anyone? Does journalism school now teach writers to make up facts to prove a point?
So I'm still looking for examples of his "cancerous" behavior. Here's what I've dug up.
1. The triple double incident: This was well documented and definitely was a dumb play that would forever tarnish his reputation as selfish. However, does it occur to anyone that he wasn't so much being selfish as he was being a goofball? This is the same guy that when a whistle is blown, jumps up and purposfully grabs a late-shot ball out of the air just because he can. Bobby Sura did the same thing, which is even MORE dumb because it happened after the Ricky thing and had already been proven futile (the rebound didn't count). Yet we never hear about that.
2. Tracking down LeBron in the hallway and chastising him for taking the last shot: First of all, I got this via hearsay, so I can't account for the validity of any of it. Nor can I know who the play was called for in the first place. However, I will submit that LeBron, Golden Child that he is, was still a teenage rookie at that point. Perhaps the best play was to go with the guy that was the leading scorer from a year ago. Call me crazy.
3. Didn't get along with Paul Silas: Well Silas is just a fun loving guy ain't he? I can see how Eric Snow has the same rep as Ricky now because of his run ins with the coach. What's that? He doesn't? That's odd. Ricky gets hated by the Cavs fans because he said the situation in Cleveland was like a black hole. Well, if your coach hated you, how would you feel about the situation? I think firing Silas at the time he was fired was the wrong move for the team, but apparently it was deemed absolutely necessary by the ownership group. I think that says something.
4. Here's everything else that I found that made any impression on me whatsoever...
Yup, nothing. I gave it a shot. I wanted to give people every opportunity to convince me what a jerk he was. I wanted someone to prove to me why Peter May has the right to continually and unabashedly make him out to be the poster boy for selfishness in sports. To the point of purposefully undercutting him in a recent (baseless) article discrediting him for the 6th man award. I wanted someone to explain it to me. Yet I remain unconvinced.
Oh yeah, and as far as evidence that he's not selfish. I submit to you the last season and a half. Since he arrived here, he's done nothing but accept a role and flourish in it. And don't just take my word for it. Listen to what Tommy Heinson has to say on the subject:
"He's such a good player with so many skills. He's mastered a lot of skills that people don't give him credit for. He certainly makes an impact on the game, and that's what the sixth-man role was created to do. But because of one or two things he's done, people won't forgive him."
Enough with the Ricky bashing. Until someone can prove to me otherwise, I will believe that Ricky is the most misunderstood player in the league. All I've witnessed is someone who loves what he does for a living, defers to his teammates for the good of the organization, and shows occasional bouts of goofiness and absentmindedness that are not unlike those of another Boston star, Manny Ramirez. I guess Ricky won't be appreciated until or unless he helps bring banner number 17. And that's a shame because people are missing out and a man is constantly raked over the coals for no reason whatsoever.