Since he was nine years old, people referred to Glen Davis as “Big Baby.” His game? Anything but baby-ish, and his certainty for the Los Angeles Clippers entering Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday is up in the air. Thursday night, Davis had to leave the game in a wheelchair because of what appeared to be a severe ankle sprain. Davis has only been playing roughly 12 minutes a game for the Clippers, but his role as a bench player is still important to his team.
Naturally, as a bench player with minimal playing time, many fans don’t see this injury as a crucial blow. But in any Game 7 series with teams going back and forth, bench players can become the X-factors who can make-or-break a series. Take the Spurs’ Patty Mills for example with his exquisite shooting as of late. In just 15 minutes a game, he has been vital for the Spurs, shooting 52.8 percent from the field.
Davis is an incredibly tough player. His defensive grit is what defines him: a big body ready to protect the rim at all costs. With that type of mentality, injuries are nothing new for Davis. Often scrapping for every possession, concussions and back problems have been thematic throughout his nine-year career.
Whether or not Davis gets the rebounds himself, his presence can be big for the Clippers’ second chance scoring. As an immensely strong player with the ability to box out, Davis has the type of physicality that any team needs for playoff success. For the Clippers’ sake, hopefully he’ll be able to fight through his ankle sprain on Saturday night, but it didn’t look promising.
As an old school coach, it makes sense that Doc Rivers and Davis were reunited as Clippers. As Celtics, both Rivers and Davis defined old school en route to their back-to-back title appearances against the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis proved then that he’s a valuable asset to have in the playoffs, as he’s an intense competitor who steps up his game. It all starts and ends with his defensive strength, something that can’t really be articulated through a stat sheet.
As a fellow Louisiana kid, Davis idolized the great Shaquille O’Neal, growing up and following in his footsteps by attending LSU. At age 15, Davis had the honor of meeting Shaq at an LSU complex, where the two agreed to a friendly wrestling match. Remarkably, as a teenager, Davis was able to body slam the 7’1″ 350 lb Shaq to the ground. The story was confirmed by Shaq, who laughs about it to this day.
Believe what you want, but if you think the 6’9″ 289 lb Davis isn’t a key contributor to the Clippers, perhaps you need to reevaluate his strengths. Throughout his entire career, Davis has been mocked with the “Big Baby” nickname, and yet has fought vigorously throughout. He has overcome physical pain, limited minutes and most importantly, disrespect, to give himself a definitive role in the NBA.
And that’s a role player most teams would love to have. A work horse who wills his way onto the court. It’s motivating for teammates to see that type of fire and ability to play through pain. Will Davis be able to take the court after being wheeled out of San Antonio last night? There’s no doubt he’s doing whatever he can to be ready to go.