NBA lockout hits Big Baby hard

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NBA lockout hits Big Baby hard

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.

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!