View Full Version : Great article about Davis by Brunner...

03-11-2005, 05:46 AM
Of course there was sentiment, the tug from the past, the warm feeling of familiarity that he knew would come over him when he pulled that pinstriped No. 32 jersey over his head again.
Which makes for nice reading, but this is Dale Davis we're talking about. This is the guy, the ads used to say, who knows where you live.

He didn't make the decision to sign with the Pacers because it made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. He did it because he wants to play now, and next year, and at least one more after that. If all of that other stuff comes with the package, so much the better.

So he signed Friday and with one shootaround with his new/old team under his belt, moved right into the starting lineup against another of his former teams, the Portland Trail Blazers.

And there he stayed. In fact, when he started his third game in a row in Utah Tuesday night, it doubled the number of starts he had in the first four months of the season, when he was largely wasted on the Golden State bench.

He has played so much, in fact, he can joke about it now. After making one appearance totaling 16 minutes in the two weeks before a series of events transpired to bring him back to Indiana, Davis racked up 89 minutes in five nights.

"Like they say," he said with a chuckle, "be careful what you wish for."

For their part, the Pacers couldn't have asked for a more timely addition than Davis. The 35-year-old was traded from the Warriors (with Speedy Claxton) to New Orleans in the deal that sent Baron Davis to Golden State on Feb. 24. The Hornets, rebuilding with young players, agreed to buy out the remainder of Dale Davis' contract, making him a free agent. After clearing waivers, he chose the Pacers over a handful of teams, including Detroit.

The day Davis signed, the Pacers placed Jermaine O'Neal on the injured list, meaning they just happened to need a frontcourt starter for at least the next five games.

"My conditioning, playing-wise, isn't there because I haven't played consistently except in practices, and practices and games are completely different," Davis said. "But I think I'm ready to contribute."

That he has done, pulling 27 rebounds (a 9.0 average) and helping the team survive O'Neal's absence with two road victories in three games.

And when he returns to Conseco Fieldhouse as a member of the Pacers Friday against the Warriors for the first time since Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 16, 2000, there's little doubt the fans in attendance will take care of manifesting the sentimentality of the moment.

"It felt good (to put his old jersey back on), no question about it," Davis said. "But I look at it as an opportunity. The last couple of years, I haven't been in a situation that fit me. This is the right place for me, no question.

"I had some great years in Indiana. I look forward to coming back and doing what I do and that's playing hard and bringing fire and toughness to the team."

Davis knows he's nearing the end of his career, and he is a proud man who doesn't want to finish it on the end of a bench, watching somebody else win for him. Since conquering problems with chronic shoulder separations early in his career, he has been virtually injury-free missing no more than eight games in any of the previous 10 seasons while keeping in his usual rock-ribbed condition.

Davis said he feels like he could "crank out a good three years if I wanted," but he's looking for something more than time. He's looking for something to show for it.

"I'm in search of a championship and I want to contribute to it. I don't want a free ride. That's why I came to Indiana. I really feel like I can help get it done here."
Dale Davis

"I'm in search of a championship and I want to contribute to it," he said. "I don't want a free ride. That's why I came to Indiana. I really feel like I can help get it done here."

At 30-30, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, the Pacers don't exactly look like a championship contender at the moment. When he was outside looking in, watching the team go through a never-ending stream of adversity including injuries and suspensions that have wracked the roster, he developed his own perspective of the team.

"This is known as a great team," Davis said. "It's just been one of those things this year where you wonder what's going to happen next. When you're looking in at it, it's not all bad to have gone through all of these things and still be in the playoffs."

As he sees it, the worst is in the past, and there still is an opportunity for the Pacers to reclaim their place among the East's elite in the playoffs.

"You have to get there, and get there in the best possible position you can, so the thing for us now is to play as hard as we possibly can," he said. "Once you get there, anything's possible."

Davis knows whereof he speaks. In 1994, the Pacers were 16-23 in mid-February. They wound up one victory away from the NBA Finals. That improbable season launched the Pacers' decade of dominance, and he was in the middle of most of it. A first-round pick from Clemson in 1991, he spent his first nine seasons with the team, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals five times and the NBA Finals once.

A player known for his intangibles was finally recognized for them in 2000, when he made his first and only All-Star appearance despite modest averages of 10.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

But after that remarkable 2000 season, most involved knew the team had run its course. Coach Larry Bird stepped down. Rik Smits retired. Mark Jackson signed with Toronto. Chris Mullin was waived. The assembly of the new Pacers began when Davis was traded to Portland for O'Neal in a controversial deal that was unpopular at the time but has proven to be one of the most prescient of CEO Donnie Walsh's career.

"I really wish I could've stayed," Davis said. "Going through those years in Portland, we all know what that was. It had its highlights and down times.

"Indiana was home. They've got good people there. It was always in the back of my mind to get back and I always felt like somehow I would. If it works out, I'd like to finish out (his career) here. That's what I'd like to happen."

Turns out, he knows where he lives, too.


Vicious Tyrant
03-11-2005, 05:59 AM
Nice article. Why are you and I up at 4:30 am?

This quote makes me feel all gooshy inside:

"Indiana was home. They've got good people there. It was always in the back of my mind to get back and I always felt like somehow I would. If it works out, I'd like to finish out (his career) here. That's what I'd like to happen."

Who'da thunk a guy like DD had such a soft, squishy center?

03-11-2005, 10:09 AM
I was glad to hear Rick say they would be signing him for at least 1 or 2 more years, and that with the other teams who wanted him that it was a real coup for the franchise to get him back. You know if the ring was his first priority then he would have picked either Detroit or SA. It is refreshing that coming here and trying to be a part of building a champion in Indy was more appealing to him then just hopping on a bonified contender this year.

He has been such a big lift for the team at this point. His return is prob. the only really positive thing we've had happen all year! Thanks for coming back Dale! Can't wait to hear how he is greated by the crowd tonight at home. Wish I could be there. Peck, you are going of course? Who else wil be there tonight?