New York Knicks point guard Baron Davis is one of the most naturally talented point guards in athletic history, an athletic dynamo with a terrific sense of court space. Unfortunately, he's had trouble staying consistent, both because of injuries and because it sometimes seems that his mind wanders outside of basketball. With interests in Hollywood and fashion, Baron might think of basketball as part of his career rather than the whole point of it.
However, that doesn't mean that he dislikes basketball. In fact, it would take a lot for him to feel badly about the game that's given him so much in life. Like, say, playing for the Clippers. Here's the relevant portion of Davis' wide-ranging interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post:
Q: What's your lowest NBA moment?
A: I would say the first time I got traded from New Orleans to Golden State. I gave my heart to the organization. I played with loose cartilage in my knee. I played with a herniated disk that I didn't find out was herniated until I tore my meniscus. And it came a point in time where they thought that I was faking my injury, and that just wasn't the case. And the other lowest point is when I played for the Clippers. ... I just stopped liking basketball. And then you dribbling down the court and having the owner like cuss at you and call you an idiot. I didn't even look forward to coming to the games, and if the owner [Donald Sterling] came to the game, I definitely was not gonna have a good game because it was just like, how do you play when the main heckler in the gym is the owner of the team, and he's telling you how much he hates you and calling out your name?
Davis isn't being cute in his statements on Sterling, because the Clippers owner really did heckle Davis during a game at least once in December 2010. It's easy to say that Baron should have sucked it up and tried his best because he was getting paid lots of money. But it's hard for anyone, no matter how much they make, to do their best in a toxic work environment.
Other players have disliked playing for Sterling. What makes Baron's statements notable is that, even if he has perfectly good reasons for it, his statement backs up one of the biggest knocks on him throughout his career. It's surprising that any player, let alone a guy who's had his effort questioned, would admit that he ever disliked basketball. For Davis to do so displays impressive honesty.
Baron will always be a frustrating player — it's hard to see some of the amazing things he's done on a court and not wish they'd happen more often. But those misgivings shouldn't be a barrier to appreciating a person. No matter the facts of his career, he opens himself up to the public in a way that most players don't.