Glen Davis looked around as he stepped on the airplane to Boston.
He paused -- the view looked different.
For the past four years of Davis life, boarding a plane in November would usually mean the Celtics were headed to a road game. The passengers would be teammates, coaches, personnel -- people Davis could identify with. But not during the NBA lockout.
I realized when I was on an airplane today and I was looking at all these guys, they dont look like basketball players -- what do they do? Davis told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Wednesday night. I tried to see myself as one of those guys.
The once-distant notion of being anything but a basketball player is a reality he has faced during the lockout. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, basketball was a way of life for Davis and a path he knew early on he would follow while others explored career options.
School wasnt my way, he said. Those guys on the airplane, they went to school, they got their degrees, and they became financial advisors or Wall Street guys. I went to school at Louisiana State University, but I was playing basketball and basketball is my career. And now its taken away from me, I have to think about something other than basketball.
After years of chasing a goal to make it in the pros, it has been challenging for Davis to adjust to life without basketball. Forced to rely on himself at many points growing up, he welcomed the sense of belonging the game gave him.
Now the waiting period during the lockout has made him to take a long, hard look at who he is as both an athlete and as a 25-year-old man who is still trying to find his way.
You dont know how things are going to happen, and thats where Im at right now, he said. Ive started my foundation and you try to build from there. It really is scary. It really is scary because youre not that athlete that everybody adores . . . Ive just been finding myself during the lockout, really, and spending time with my family.
The unrestricted free agent is anxious to get back into NBA action. He recently decided against playing overseas with Guangsha in China and opted instead to wait for the lockout to end.
Talks were really, really close. Really, really close, he said of signing overseas. I want to stay here in the States and try to wait it out and see if we can start playing some basketball soon . . . That was one of my biggest fears, being locked over there watching NBA games. My dream was to play in the NBA and thats the only place I see myself.
Davis has taken to Twitter to express his desire to find a solution to the lockout. On Wednesday he tweeted, Take the 51 man and let's play. He explained the post was a way to express his views on the situation.
At the end of the day, everybody has a point, he said. The owners have a point, the players have a point. At the end of the day, I want to play basketball. At the end of the day, a job is a job. I just want to play. I want to play, and thats my most important thing. Yes, I want a fair deal, but also I do want to play . . . I want each party to be fair with each other. . . . At the end of the day, if were all giving, it should work out for the best for everybody. Thats just my point.
Once basketball resumes, Davis will be faced with making another deal -- signing a new contract. He has played his entire career in Boston since being drafted by the Celtics in 2007 and would like to return. At the same time, he understands basketball is a business.
I would love to be in Boston, he said. I would love to be in Boston if the opportunity was there. But if its not there, I cant sit there and just cry about it. Ive got to go somewhere else.
Looking back on last season and the Celtics' second-round playoff exit, Davis has learned there are things he can improve on moving forward. After facing criticism by many for trying to do too much, he wants to be more comfortable within himself on the court. To him, mental strength is stronger than any ability to grab a rebound or take a charge.
There are a lot of things I would have done differently, but I think the most important thing is just being mentally strong in spite how things go or what you think things should be, he said. I want to be a part of something and I want people to accept me so bad, I kind of got caught up in what other people think. Instead of pleasing myself and being the player I am, I wanted to please other people. And I couldnt do that because I hadnt come to grips with myself.
He added, I wanted to impress my coach so he could trust me and accept me for the player that I am. I wanted to please my teammates. At the same time, things mentally were not there. How can I please them if I cant please myself, if Im not accepting myself as a player and just doing what I have to do?
Davis offers a glimpse into the side of the boisterous big man that is not always seen amid the joking and laughter. A sense of acceptance and belonging is important to him.
I would have to say it is important to me to please others just because of the way people perceive me to be, he said. They perceive me to be this fat guy whos kind of just making it in the league, hes just here. I want people to like me. I want people to say, Hey this boy can really play, he can play the game, he is a great player.
I just want people to love me, to love Big Baby. Thats why I try to have people remember me for my personality, for who I am as a person, outgoing, having fun. I just want to be accepted.
Thats just something Ive learned in the offseason -- a lot of people might not like you. You have to love yourself because at the end of the day when its all said and done, nobodys going to take care of Glen but Glen. Its just all about growing up. Ive grown a lot this offseason and hopefully it will help me with my career.
For Davis, the lockout means thinking about life after the game, something he didnt expect to do this early. It means managing his money and being smart with what he has earned. It also means practicing the discipline that is emphasized throughout the NBA season on his own.
Playing basketball and being around an organization that practices discipline and mentally practices how to be a man, you dont realize that being a Celtic, being around Doc Rivers and those players, has helped me be a better man in life because it helps me with discipline and knowing how to do things the right way and be a professional, he said.
Taking basketball away from me, its kind of hindering my growth. I have to go and try to figure things out myself now and make my way through a different way. Making my way through was playing basketball. Now Ive got to make my way through being a regular guy who doesnt play basketball. Now Ive got to learn how to put a suit and tie on and go to work. Thats just the way it is and it affects so many people. Not only us as basketball players, but for fans, employees, basketball is sort of a way of life.
While Davis looks inward, he is also giving outward during this time. He launched the Glen Big Baby Davis Foundation, which focuses on literacy, athletic, and healthy recreational activities. One of his projects is the imaginary library, aimed to provide children with books in their homes.
Through this foundation, he is fostering a strong interest he hadnt realized before -- I really found that I have a deep passion for kids and the well-being of kids and putting them in the right direction, he said.
In addition, he has also started Big Baby Entertainment and is working with fellow Baton Rouge native, DaJamaal, who Davis says, "touches on a lot of things in society that people dont usually talk about."
As Davis becomes involved in new ventures and works to help others, he eagerly waits for basketball to resume. Thinking of getting back on the court stays on his mind, whether he is boarding an airplane or even watching a movie.
I was watching the cartoon movie 'The Incredibles' and the heroes werent wanted by the people anymore, so now they have to blend in and be regular people, he recalled. The guy on the cartoon was working at a desk job and he didnt like it. He wanted to be a hero and thats all he knew he wanted to be. And thats how we are. Were considered heroes in the community and for somebody to take your super powers away, how do you deal with somebody taking your super powers away?
Davis will eventually regain his "super powers" once the NBA season gets underway, but the strengths he gains during the lockout may prove to be the greatest ones of all.