Former Knick Baron Davis reflects on time in New York, how Nets are faring without Kyrie Irving

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Baron Davis closeup
Baron Davis closeup

“I have a different mission than just living my life as a celebrity or a basketball player.”

The statement above is from former Knick Baron Davis. Davis’ remarkable NBA career ended on the Garden floor in 2012, Game 4 of the Knicks-Heat playoff series.

Davis was carried off of the court on a stretcher after suffering a brutal knee injury — a partial tear of the patellar tendon and complete tears of the right ACL and MCL. Davis literally left it all on the floor for the Knicks, helping the club win its first playoff game in more than 10 years.

After his NBA playing career ended, Davis became an entrepreneur and business owner. The two-time All-Star was an early investor in successful companies like VitaminWater and Thrive Market, which he helped launch.

More recently, Davis appeared on the show Small Business Revolution to provide tools and advice to six Black-owned small businesses in the communities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. Davis joined the show, which is hosted by Amanda Brinkman, the chief brand and communications officer of Deluxe Corp, for Season Six.

Below, he talks about his motivation to join the show. He discusses his experience with small Black-owned businesses in Minnesota and across the country. And Davis explains how the Knicks medical staff played a role in his post-career trajectory.

The Q&A has been edited for length.

SNY: BARON, WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION TO JOIN THE SHOW?

DAVIS: It was Amanda. She’s out there scoring like Steph Curry and I wanted to be her Draymond Green (laughs). What she’s doing and what Small Business Revolution has done in the past is to take initiative and go and help fix problems and highlight problems that are solvable. For me, it was an opportunity to learn and to connect with small businesses and people. But also to move with a purpose. And to be able to inspire people and give people the tools and share the things that I'm learning as well.

SNY: AMANDA, WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE SHOW TO WORK WITH BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES?

AMANDA BRINKMAN: Deluxe is headquartered in Minneapolis, in St. Paul. And so for us to bring it home was really meaningful. And I think Minneapolis was kind of ground zero for the social reckoning we see going on across the world. And so we felt a responsibility to be a part of the solution and to bring upon positive change within our community. And one of the things that Deluxe knows how to do – and the small business revolution program is proof of that — is economic empowerment. Really supporting entrepreneurs and then showing what happens when you invest in your small businesses. So again, as brands and people were trying to figure it out, the right role to play. This was just a very natural way for us to participate in positive change. So by bringing the small business revolution home, we felt like we could directly use our platform to celebrate these incredible Black-owned businesses and show what happens when you intentionally support Black-owned businesses within your community.

Jun 26, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks player Baron Davis poses with young fans for a photo just prior to the Steve Nash Foundation Showdown Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks player Baron Davis poses with young fans for a photo just prior to the Steve Nash Foundation Showdown Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

SNY: BARON, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT KIND OF HURDLES DO BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES FACE?

DAVIS: Lack of resources, lack of visibility, lack of opportunities (to access) the tools and the information that they need. The money that should be spent in the community and around the community — to make the community better — is not being spent. When you add all that up, you're getting people that are overlooked, undervalued and underappreciated.

SNY: YOU’RE BARON DAVIS. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT WITH YOUR TIME. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

DAVIS: I want to gain knowledge. I want to share knowledge. I'm a man of the people. I just believe in people, right? I believe that that there are incredible people all around this world and... my job is to find the right ones, highlight the right ones and connect the right ones. It’s just kind of how I’ve always been, even as a point guard. I just want to make people better. I want to be responsible for being a part of helping make someone better, make their job easier, make their life easier.

Mar 24, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Baron Davis (85) drives past Detroit Pistons guard Walker Russell (23) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 101-79. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Baron Davis (85) drives past Detroit Pistons guard Walker Russell (23) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 101-79. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

SNY: WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT YOUR TIME WITH THE KNICKS?

BARON: I remember walking into the Knicks and not being able to stand up straight. I thought my career was over before I even got to the Knicks. I was just hoping that I could walk, literally, when I got there. I think New York helped me with my imagination and helped me with my mind. The doctors that believed in me; they just surrounded me with like everything that I needed: medical care, mental care, physical therapy. It was really the medical team, the training staff, I learned the value of both of them. Doctor Suite mental health, mental therapy, all the visualizations. (Thanks to that), I was able to come back and play.

Even though I got hurt and my career ended, I think if I did not go through that process with my back to even get back on the court, I would have been way worse, with a career in injury, not being able to find myself. So that was the most important thing, I would say. So shout out to Dr. Ainsworth Allen, Dr. (Lisa) Callahan, Dr. Suites and the Andy Barr, people were instrumental in just getting me out there and being able to play.

SNY: WITH THE NETS AND THE SITUATION WITH KYRIE [IRVING]. IF YOU WERE ON A TEAM AND THE POINT GUARD COULD ONLY PLAY ON THE ROAD AND PRACTICE AT HOME, HOW MUCH WOULD THAT CHALLENGE A GROUP THAT’S TRYING TO REACH THE TOP?

DAVIS: We all know how difficult that could be. But Kyrie is also the same person who sat out of the bubble. Not only did he sit out but he gave his whole entire salary to the WNBA…. (The Nets are) professionals, I'm sure they'll be able to figure it out. And I just love Kyrie for his belief in (himself) and how he stands his ground.