CHICAGO — Although Anthony Davis is widely expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer, he continues to entertain the possibility of playing in Chicago, which he considers the “Mecca of basketball.”
Soon after the Lakers wrapped up Monday’s practice, Davis had to fulfill another personal obligation that meant a lot to him.
He surprised members of the boys and girls basketball teams at his alma mater, Perspectives Charter School, at local favorite Lulu’s Hot Dogs.
“If you get a chance to come home and play for the Bulls, would you do it?” a young athlete asked Davis in the midst of a Q&A segment of the Nike-sponsored event.
“Honestly, it’s nothing like playing at home,” Davis responded, after the room filled with laughter. “I don’t know. … I mean, I am a free agent next year, but we’ll see. It’s a possibility.”
Asked again Tuesday about the comments, Davis tried to clarify what he meant.
“I said I’d consider anything,” Davis said. “I said I’m focused on winning a championship with the Lakers and, of course, everyone knows I’ll be a free agent next year and we’ll see where it goes.”
For the first time this season, Davis will return to the United Center as a member of the Lakers on Tuesday night against the hometown Bulls. The Midwest toughness of current NBA players like Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverley, Jabari Parker and more recently Miami Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn gives him the utmost confidence in the talent of his hometown — and why he considers it the Mecca of hoops.
“I mean, it is. We’ve got the best basketball players ever,” Davis said after practice. “You look at the history with all the guys we’ve got that made the league and even the guys that didn’t make the league. They say New York, but it’s not even close.”
Davis previously touched on both topics in a Chicago Tribune story published in July, but with the Lakers off to a Western Conference-best 5-1 start, his latest comments continue to stir the pot with him in the spotlight.
The league also announced Davis as Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday after he averaged 32.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.0 assists while leading Los Angeles to a 3-0 record for games played Oct. 28 through Nov. 3.
“You see his numbers?” teammate LeBron James said of Davis’ latest honor. “And we was 3-0 for the week.”
Davis credits that Chicago toughness for his stellar play in Los Angeles. Growing up, he idolized Rose, who went on to become the league’s youngest MVP in history, while working hard to make a name for himself.
Rose’s latest “M-V-P” chants at the United Center last week as a member of the Pistons were a testament to his impact on the city. Davis hopes to leave a similar impact someday.
“He just gave me hope,” Davis said of Rose. “I actually wanted to go to Memphis, but then Coach [John Calipari] got up out of there, and I think [Derrick Rose] is actually going to be a lot of guys’ idols who came up under him just because of what he was able to do.
“Watching him with the Bulls and what he was able to accomplish with winning MVP and going to the playoffs and all that stuff was just so much that we thought wasn’t going to happen for us growing up in the neighborhood we grew up in and being in the situations we grew up in,” he added. “He kind of gave everyone hope in the city of Chicago for basketball players, and now that’s why he gets so much of the love he gets now, but D-Rose was definitely that guy for me.”
With All-Star Weekend returning to Chicago in February for the first time since 1988, Davis says he’d feel honored to earn his seventh selection.
But, for now, he’s focused on helping the Lakers win a title and believes the rest will take care of itself.
“Chicago is a fun city, and as of late, people started doubting that just because of all the stuff that’s going on, but hopefully that weekend we’re able to show people why Chicago is as great as we know that it is,” Davis said. “All-Star is always a fun city, and when you bring everybody back into the Mecca of basketball, it’s always going to be great, so I’m excited for it and hopefully I’m able to be another All-Star and play in front of this home crowd, but I’ll be here regardless.”