Anthony Davis had an amazing 2012. He led Kentucky to a National Championship in April and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. In June, the New Orleans Hornets made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.
Then in August, he joined LeBron James and Kobe Bryant on gold medal-winning Team USA at the London Olympics. Now he is nearing the midway point of his rookie season in New Orleans. It took the Hornets 6 games to surpass the two losses that Davis suffered with the Cats in his one season in Lexington.
KENT TAYLOR: What has been the biggest challenge for you, coming off of a National Championship at Kentucky, and now dealing with all the losing?
ANTHONY DAVIS: We just have to get better. We’re out here fighting each and every game, we just have to get better, that’s all it is. Keep working, we’re out there playing hard, everyone is being aggressive. Things are going to start falling for us, just keep being aggressive, keep attacking.
TAYLOR: How much of a chance have you had to keep up with Kentucky this year?
DAVIS: I keep up with them a lot. All the guys on this team love college basketball and college football, so we keep up with our teams. We still see Kentucky fans at NBA games. They just got to keep working. They have to realize that we won a National Championship last year, so everyone is going to come out there to beat Kentucky. They have to have that mindset, so they’ll be fine. They’re a young team, they’ll be fine.
TAYLOR: How much are you able to stay in touch with the guys from last season?
DAVIS: We still keep in touch, it’s definitely hard with the schedule that we have. We keep in touch when we can. We go to each others’ cities, try to have lunch or something, or talk after the game, or before the game. It’s tough, just because we are NBA players and we are busy.
TAYLOR: What has been the most surprising to you about being an NBA player, about the lifestyle?
DAVIS: It’s just busy, it’ll wear you out. You have to make sure you get your rest. You have to keep working, guys are going to come after you. You’re not a freshman with four-year players. You have guys who have been in the league for 15 years and 16 years, 10-plus years, who know all the tricks of the trade. You have to come along and try to learn those things. The good thing is that we have guys on our team who have been in the league that long and who can help us through it.
TAYLOR: When you turned pro, you said that it was a dream come true, does it feel like you’re living a dream?
DAVIS: Most definitely, it’s the NBA lifestyle, you have to fight through it. It’s a long season, we’re just over 30 games in, and there are 82 of them. Still got to keep fighting, but you have to love to play basketball, and that’s what I love to do. The season could be 500 games, I’ll try to play all of them.
TAYLOR: How tough was it to miss the one in your hometown of Chicago?
DAVIS: It was tough, but my team got the win, so that’s all that mattered. It’s always good to go back home and play in front of your home crowd. It was a game that I was really looking forward to; unfortunately it didn’t happen. There’s always next year, but we got that win, so that’s all that matters.
TAYLOR: How much do you lean on Coach Calipari – do you talk to him often?
DAVIS: Sometimes. He’s a busy guy in the season, working with the team at Kentucky. I just let him do his thing, he calls me every now and then to just catch up. He’s a busy guy just like I’m a busy guy.
TAYLOR: How much has it helped the transition to have a familiar face like Darius Miller in New Orleans with you?
DAVIS: It’s good to have somebody who I was with last year. We’re both rookies, going through the same thing. We can lean on each other, give each other advice. What we see on the floor and try to help each other out, to be great players in the league.
*Editor’s Note: Miller has since been sent to the Development League.
TAYLOR: How much does it change things for this team to have Eric Gordon back on the court?
DAVIS: Eric is doing a great job. He’s being aggressive and he’s attacking the rim. Finding the open guy and knocking down shots. The game just looks like it’s more open, the floor is more open, more spread out because he’s a threat, and guys have to play him. That benefits all of us.
TAYLOR: Is it difficult when they don’t run anything for you, or is it something you are used to?
DAVIS: It’s not difficult. Got to go earn my points, just go out there and play. It was the same thing last year at Kentucky, it’s fine with me, I don’t care. I’m not really caring about scoring, anyway, I’m just worried about getting the win.