These seemed more meaningful than the ones he receives at the Smoothie King Center, where he performs before thousands more for a lot of money.
Ask the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis about the fans’ “MVP!” chants there after he makes a spectacular play, and he seems uncomfortable and always answers, “It’s too early yet. There’s a lot of season left.”
But there he was at the Fulton Alley bowling lanes Tuesday, engulfed in chants and enjoying every minute of it.
“AD! AD! AD!” chanted the nearly 100 children from the West Bank YMCA at Federal City.
They did that every time it was his time to roll. Davis rolled, knocking down all but one pin. He covered his face.
“Awwww!” they moaned.
The next one was better.
Davis, the Pelicans’ star power forward who is set to be a starter in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 15 in New York, was hosting a night of bowling and prize giveaways for 100 students ages 6 to 16. It was the third event of his AD’s Flight Academy, coming after a Thanksgiving dinner for residents at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope and a Christmas shopping spree for 75 kids from Kingsley House.
Like the other events he hosted, Davis clearly was engaged.
“Just to see the kids having a great time is exciting,” he said. “To see the smiles on their faces, that’s what it’s all about.”
The smiles and chants and laughter and cheer were nonstop. Samantha Pichon, executive director of the West Bank YMCA at Federal City, had contacted the Pelicans about an event a month ago. When she learned it would involve Davis, she couldn’t believe it.
Excitement spread as the children found out, and Pichon reached out to schools, churches and the like for attendees.
“I know a lot about him,” said Daja Waters, an 11th-grader. “The unibrow — he’s a great player. I watch a lot of the Pelicans games. I took a picture with him once before, but I wanted to see him again.”
Davis, with teammate Ryan Anderson, gave away lots of prizes. Near the end, he even generated some screams.
“Everybody is going to get a car!” Davis said. “No, I’m joking. Everybody who came here today is going to get two free tickets to (Wednesday) night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.”
The screams became louder and longer.
Fifth-grader Kaja DiLosa had just hit the jackpot. She already had gotten two tickets from school for making the A and B honor roll — one free, the second at a discount — for the game Feb. 11 against the Indiana Pacers. To that one, she is taking her dad, who watches games with her on TV. Now, two more.
Davis said he grew up bowling in Chicago.
“I bowl a little bit — 150, 170 on a bad day,” he said, chuckling. “I used to bowl all the time when I was younger. ... A lot of the kids (Tuesday) said, ‘I’ve never bowled before.’ So to see them bowl for the first time was a cool thing.”
One they likely won’t forget any time soon.