Baron Davis surprised many basketball fans in mid-January when he announced his intention to return to professional basketball in the D-League after four years out of the NBA. The shock wasn't just related to the potential reasons a man who had made plenty of money and seemed to have lots of non-basketball interests would want to ride buses for a few months (although Davis has said he wanted to go out on his own terms after suffering a patella tendon tear with the New York Knicks). There was also the question of whether Davis would embarrass himself after so long away from the highest levels of the game.
Davis has now played his first game, and the early returns suggest that he's the same player — just noticeably older. The two-time NBA All-Star suited up for the Delaware 87ers for the first time on Friday, two days after signing a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers' affiliate. He started off pretty well, dunking for his first two points:
OK, so it's not the sort of finish that made Davis one of the most athletic point guards of all time despite several major knee surgeries. But it was pretty impressive considering Davis didn't think he was capable. From Dan Gelston for the Associated Press:
''I'm not dunking,'' he said, smiling.
One game into his comeback, the 36-year-old Davis already proved himself wrong. [...]
''I just never thought I'd be playing again,'' Davis said before the game. ''I'm kind of just treating it as a new experience.'' [...]
He surprised himself with his dunk.
''I thought it was LeBron James coming to block it. I didn't want to lay it up,'' he said. ''I thought, while I'm up here, I might as well try.''
The 87ers are affiliated with the 76ers. Davis is free to sign with any NBA team, but he isn't expecting a call-up any time soon.
''I made it this far, which is crazy,'' he said. ''This is my NBA right now.''
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
Baron had a few more highlights, too, including this nice pass for an alley-oop:
Baron Davis showing off his alley-oop skills with the lob to Sam Thompson. pic.twitter.com/yGeKptz0mq
— D-League Digest (@DLeagueDigest) March 5, 2016
And this long three-pointer will remind lots of Warriors fans of his days with the "We Believe" squads:
— NBA D-League (@nbadleague) March 5, 2016
This was the Baron we know — a penchant for high-impact plays, a flair for the dramatic, and overall excitement. His stats were not quite so exciting — eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, four assists, three steals, and five fouls in only 19 minutes — but Davis has never been known for efficiency. Plus, this comeback isn't about finding a space on an NBA roster. Let's just have some fun.
- - - - - - -