Team officially announces signing of former NBA star, who is set make his Mile One debut tonight
The St. John’s Edge jersey that Glen Davis held up for the cameras Thursday bore the number ‘0'.
The former National Basketball Association star nicknamed "Big Baby" says it’s one indication that he’s working on a fresh start in Newfoundland.
“That’s what it is, starting from scratch” said Davis.
The 32-year-old centre, who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, was officially introduced to the St. John’s media Thursday, just about a week after The Telegram first reported he’d be joining the National Basketball League of Canada’s Edge. And even though he hasn’t played in a competitive five-on-five league in three years, and will only have had one full practice with his new team, the 6-9, 290-pound Davis is expected to be in the St. John’s lineup tonight against the Island Storm in the first game of what will be a four-game homestand at Mile One Centre.
He‘s by far the highest-profile player ever to come to the NBL Canada and as such, has made an impact before ever playing a minute. How soon Davis translates that impact onto the court remains to be seen.
“We’ll fit you in slowly here,” St. John’s head coach Doug Plumb told Davis during Thursday’s news conference, and the big man admitted job No. 1 will be to, “get in the best shape possible.”
This past summer, Davis scraped away a bit of what must be considerable rust by playing in the Big 3, a high-profile three-on-three league featuring mostly ex NBA players … and he did very well, winning a championship and earning playoff MVP honours. But that was really his first action since his NBA career ended with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015. He had been set to play for a team in Croatia this season, but left that European nation without appearing in a game. Word from the Croatian team’s camp was that Davis’s weight and attitude were involved. For his part, Davis has been quoted as saying that he objected to the way the team was operated and with how the coach treated the players.
“I want to end (my career) on a note I can be proud of, that I can look back on it for years and years and say I didn’t quit. I want to say I went to play in Canada and I had the time of my life.”
On Thursday, when asked what transpired, he wasn’t specific, starting out by describing himself as, “a weird guy.”
“If I feel weird about something, I’m not just going to do it, and the rhythm and vibes weren’t there,” he said. “Here I am now, where the vibes and rhythm are great, and we’re going to dance.”
Apparently, he got a lot of those good vibes digitally.
The Edge first contacted his agent this past summer, but were told he had other plans, presumably in Croatia. But by late November, more than a month after Davis returned to the United States from Europe, talks resumed again and went smoothly.
Davis, meanwhile, went online to research his prospective new home and team.
“Google,” he answered when asked who he went to for information on the Edge and Newfoundland. “You can watch every game on Google. You can look at what’s going on and I could see what I could do here.
“We have a lot of shooters and I’m a big body, and I know how to set up a screen, to (pick and) roll, how to help get guys open. When I saw games on YouTube, I felt like I could really fit in here.”
The speculation is that Davis might be looking for a starting point to a route that could lead him back to the NBA, but on Thursday, he said that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“I’ve already accomplished what I need to accomplish there (in the NBA),” said Davis, who appeared in 610 regular-season and playoff games for the Celtics, Orlando Magic and Clippers
“Now it’s just me, mentally. How do I end my career?” he continued, citing his departure from the Clippers, which came after ankle surgery.
“I don’t want that to be my story, the story of Glen “Big Baby” Davis. I want to end it on a note I can be proud of, that I can look back on it for years and years and say I didn’t quit. I want to say I went to play in Canada and I had the time of my life.”
While Davis agrees with Plumb that he will probably need to be eased into action with the Edge (2-5), he does bring the confidence he gained with his participation with the Big 3.
“It was a huge, especially with what I was going through at the time … the situation,” he said, referring to his recent legal problems in the United States. “It was just being a part of something bigger than yourself, something I enjoyed.
“It was medicine.”
It also helped provide Plumb with a scouting report on Davis.
Former NBA star Carlos Boozer is a friend of Plumb’s — the two work together at off-season basketball camps in Alaska — and Boozer also participated in the Big 3 on a team that came up against Davis’s.
“When I told Carlos we were looking at bringing in Glen,” related Plumb. “I asked him how he looked and he said, 'He kicked my ass. You should sign him.'"
As for those legal issues — he was charged last March with possession of 126 grams of marijuana and intent to distribute, and he is also dealing with assault charge from last April, stemming from an altercation outside a West Hollywood nightclub — Davis simply said, “Everything is on its way to being resolved. Everything is good.
“For me, things are getting better and better.”