David Anthony/Getty Images
Photo: David Anthony/Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis plans to enjoy the All-Star festivities, starting this weekend as he put his foot down by saying that he has no intention of leaving the Big Easy.

The 66th NBA All-Star Game will mark the fourth time that New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis has been selected and this will be the second time that the 23-year-old has been chosen as a starter.

Only this particular occasion will see Davis start an All-Star Game in New Orleans, three years on from the Chicago native’s first appearance at the All-Star Game in 2014 as an injury replacement for Kobe Bryant.

Anthony Davis netted 10 points in his first NBA All-Star Game which was in New Orleans in 2014. Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

However, Davis’ rise to NBA stardom started so humbly. Playing for Perspectives Charter School in the south side of Chicago. The high school team plays in a division of the Chicago Public High School League, known as the Blue Division, that is ignored by the media because of its lower level of competition.

The school itself was not known for its basketball program and the team was forced to train at a nearby church hall. But still Davis was considered one of the top prospects in high school, despite his league’s lack of coverage.

“The Chicago Sun-Times covered nearly 700 boys high school basketball games last season. Anthony Davis, who just might be the best high school player in the country, didn’t play in any of them,” Michael O’Brien, a Chicago Sun-Times editor said back in 2009 about Davis.

Before All-Star Weekend, Davis spoke to the international media about these very subjects plus his views on facing Giannis Antetokounmpo, his time with Kentucky and more.

Q: What was it like not having a high school court growing up

Davis: “I think that not having a home gym with stands and where you’re friends and family that support you, you know you treat every game like a road game. So, you get used to all the negativity and all the boos so now it doesn’t matter if I’m playing home or away. I treat every game the same. We only had 400 people in my high school so it was a small school and it was just a grind honestly just a grind. But it definitely helped me out as a player, different mind-set to work even harder to try and get my name on a map which is tough to do when you don’t have a home gym or if you go to a small school that’s not really known.”

Q: Your views on facing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the All-Star game

Davis: “It’s All-Star game man, we go out there and have fun, no one really takes it seriously. And of course no one really wants to go out there and get hurt, it’s all about fun. I’ve played against him twice, he can really play and bring a lot to a team. He can get the ball, get up the floor and find guys so it’s going to be a fun match up I’m looking forward to it.”

Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo will go head-to-head in New Orleans this weekend. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune)

Q: On moving teams

Davis: “I like the team we have now, we’re always kind of injured so it’s tough to win games when a lot of the top guys are out but we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got a team that can compete for the playoffs, we’ve proved that a couple times this year, we can match up against anybody. We’re not afraid of anyone, we feel that we’re just as good as any other team in the league but we’ve just got to find a way to stay healthy and be a little bit more consistent that’s really it.”

Q: On playing with Kentucky players in the NBA

Davis: “I don’t really know, Kentucky has always played a great brand of basketball so it’s no surprise there’s a lot of Wildcats in the NBA. Terrence Jones is a great teammate to play with, he’s helped us tremendously so I like our team I like what we’re doing. I wouldn’t choose anybody except the guys on our team.”

Q: Are you planning on potentially leaving New Orleans Pelicans and what has to be done to improve the team?

Davis: “First off I don’t plan on leaving make sure you write that down and secondly I think I said it before, we just need to get healthy that’s really it, getting healthy and staying consistent. Sometimes we’re inconsistent so that hurts us, if we keep all our guys on the floor and get more consistent then we’ll be fine.”

Q: Has possibly winning All-Star game MVP come into your mind?

Davis: “I’m going to go out there and try and win MVP. It’s in New Orleans so I’m going to go out there and play to the best of my ability but it’s definitely one of the goals to go out there and try to win MVP.”

Q: On trying to sell the Pelicans to prospective free agents..

Davis: “I’m not trying to sell anything to anybody, if guys want to come here they can come. It’s not my job to go sell, my job is go play basketball. That’s the job for the front office, they handle that that’s their job to bring guys in.”

Q: How will the atmosphere pan out with the All-Star game being in New Orleans again?

Davis: “I’m not sure how it’s going to be. Last time out I didn’t get that much playing time but the fans definitely appreciated I was there. I’m pretty sure this time is going to be crazier than 2014 so I’m definitely excited for it. Being able to play in New Orleans and being able to play in front of the home crowd and family and friends is going to be something special for me.”

Q: How differently will you play on Sunday compared to the 2014 All-Star game?

Davis: “I’ll play more aggressive, even when I play Sunday I am going to play the same way like any regular season game. I am going to go out there and be aggressive and just play my game, that’s the only thing you can do. Of course, it is not taken that seriously except the fourth quarter. I am just going to go out there and play defence and you know do my thing on offense and have fun, the most important thing is to have fun and that’s what I am going to try to do.”

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Q: What did you learn from the London Olympics in 2012?

Davis: “I learnt a lot. To go over there and participate in an Olympics before I stepped on an NBA floor, it taught me a lot being around all those guys who are future hall of famers and done tremendous things in their careers and so being able to get that experience and trying to learn a little from those guys and bring that back to New Orleans and just try and help the team win. I definitely got a great experience and a great learning experience from London.” 

Q: Is Dirk Nowitzki a role model for you? 

Davis: “I watched a lot of Dirk clips in the past few years. The way he creates space, he uses his body very well and it is easy for him because he can just shoot over guards. So, yes, I watch a lot of clips and try to do things that he does from the elbow area or even down to the block and I try to put that in my game.”

Q: Second time in the Skills Challenge, do you have confidence you will make a comeback from last year and who is the most competitive player to play against in this year’s Skills Challenge?

Davis: “The Skills Challenge is always fun, I had fun last year. It was the first time I was doing it and it was something different for me, so I definitely wanted to do it again this year, so I’m looking forward to have fun. If I win, I win, of course I always want to win, but my goal is to have fun and to enjoy the All-Star Weekend. I would love to win the entire competition, but going against players such as Embiid, he’s a very skilled player as well, so it is not going to be easy.”

Q: What is your views on the evolution of big men in the NBA?

Davis: “There are no traditional big men in the league anymore. The big men now are able to shoot the basketball, some even shoot threes. The game has definitely evolved and that’s the way the game is going. Every big man that comes in the league is getting better and better, adding more to the game and making it more fun. Of course, there are still back-to-the-basket big men, like me or Dwight Howard, who go back and defend.”

Anthony Davis’ team-mate Buddy Hield will compete in the Skills Challenge this year. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Q: On teammate Buddy Hield, who competes in the Rising Stars Challenge..

Davis: “Buddy is playing very well as of late, he started slow, but he’s doing a great job concentrating and just playing basketball. If you’re a rookie, people have a lot of expectations from you, but he’s doing a great job. As far as to him playing on Friday, I’m just glad he has this opportunity to have fun. This is the goal of the All-Star Weekend, have fun.”

Q: What are you looking forward the most this weekend?

Davis: “The atmosphere will be great. The city of New Orleans is a great city. Of course you have Mardi Gras at the same time and that will make the All-Star Weekend a lot more fun. The food I great, people are great, it’s just fun and beautiful. I’m really excited to be in that game and to play in the city of New Orleans in front of our fans. It’s going to be a fun and emotional game.”