For a day, at least, Anthony Davis was the talk of the NBA again.
On Monday — a day after the Pelicans power forward posted the best game of his career in Detroit, a 59-point, 20-rebound performance in a 111-106 win against the Pistons — the league was buzzing about Davis in a way it hasn’t all season.
Over a 24-hour span, Davis made appearances on NBA TV, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports Radio and ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss a game he’s unlikely ever to forget — one of which he intends to surround himself with reminders.
“I’m definitely going to frame (the box score) with the game ball,” Davis said Sunday on ESPN radio. “Definitely have to do that. Probably retire that jersey, hang the jersey up. It’s just so memorable, a memorable night for me. It’s been one of my dreams to score 50. … Everything that I had on will probably be going in a glass case somewhere.”
Davis’ game — just the third 50-point, 20-rebound game in the league since 1983-84 — made waves well beyond Detroit. On Monday as the Pelicans prepared for Tuesday’s game against the Wizards in Washington, it still was reverberating.
On its website, The Washington Post led its weekly NBA power rankings with a long item on Davis reminding the NBA of his greatness. The New York Times also featured Davis’ breakout day.
There was Twitter praise from fellow NBA players — Hawks point guard Jeff Teague tweeted that Davis was “rude for that” — and rapper Lil Wayne.
Kentucky coach John Calipari on his weekly radio show said he “hit up” Davis after the game to tell his former player ,“I probably should have had you shoot more” during his year in college. Davis, the 2012 NCAA Player of the Year, took the fourth-most shots on Kentucky’s championship team.
For all of the individual praise coming Davis’ way, though, much of Monday’s reaction centered on his shining moment coming in a disappointing season for the Pelicans.
The Vertical on Yahoo Sports featured a piece with the headline “What the NBA learned from Anthony Davis’ 59-point performance,” about the burden Davis faces as a transcendent player on a team with a flawed roster.
ESPN Radio’s Russillo & Kanell show did a segment about whether Davis is doomed in New Orleans with a franchise that co-host Danny Kanell called “lost.”
“When I look at it, I worry about his future, just playing in New Orleans — playing in that market, playing on that team,” Kanell said. “Where do you go from here if you’re Anthony Davis? Is he always going to be this? He’s got, what, four years left (on his contract) … so he’s going to be there that long. I don’t know what kind of pieces they’re going to be able to bring in around him to make them a serious contender in the West. I look at him and I just wonder. I hope he gets out of there.”
Davis, though, hasn’t written off this season.
“His mindset is, ‘I got to get this team in the playoffs,’” Calipari said.
Davis is averaging 30.7 points and 9.2 rebounds in February, but the Pelicans remain a long shot to make the playoffs.
Despite a two-game winning streak, New Orleans is 4-5 in February and entered Monday night’s league schedule 5½ games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. Two teams remain between the Pelicans and eighth-place Houston.
“I don’t think it’s impossible,” Davis said on CBS’ Doug Gottlieb Show. “We’re playing well right now. We got to keep it going. Of course we need other teams to lose, but we came in after All-Star and said we want to be the best team in the NBA the second half of the season. That’s what we’re trying to do right now.”