Anthony Davis is an NBA champion thanks to a tremendous playoff run that saw him average 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Orlando Bubble.
Davis is, at present, a free agent, as he declined his player option for this year, but all indications are he’ll re-sign with the Lakers on a max deal when able on Friday. For now, Davis doesn’t want to talk about that, but he is happy to reflect on a wild 2019-20 season, his first in L.A. We got a chance to speak with Davis on behalf of Mobil 1 over Zoom on Monday, where the All-NBA big man explained what life was like in the Bubble, new hobbies and TV shows he got into in Orlando, what he learned from his first title run, balancing rest and preparation for next season, and how Lakers fans can get in on a raffle to win some signed championship apparel.
What was the Bubble experience like for you and what were the things you had to adjust to in order to find a routine and find a rhythm while you were there?
It wasn’t that bad. I think mainly it was just not being able to move around or do things on your own. You usually have a lot more freedom to kinda do what you want, and we were just confined to the hotel – for great reasons, obviously. But that was just the biggest adjustment of getting used to being in your room, wearing your mask, gotta go back to the hotel after a game and shower. So it was just really small adjustments to make, but it was all worth it for sure.
I know some guys got into pickleball and golf and stuff like that. Did you pick up any new hobbies while you were there just to pass the time?
I started playing a little chess. I learned how to play a little chess. We played a lot of video games, watched a lot of movies. That was really it. Nothing too exciting.
What were some of your favorite movies you watched while you were down there?
I watched this TV series called Away on Netflix that was pretty cool. I really like astrology and space and things like that, and it was about this lady going to space and separating her family going to Mars for the first time. So it was pretty cool. I think they’re coming out with a season two, so I’m pretty excited about that. That’s one of my favorites that I saw while I was in the Bubble.
From a basketball perspective, what was the biggest challenge of making a championship run in the Bubble and making sure you were getting in that locked in mentality you have to have for playoff basketball?
I think just not having fans around, knowing that it’s going to be quiet in the arenas. Just, even though we love our teammates a ton, just the time away from those guys is always great and just seeing these guys every day and seeing the coaching staff every day, getting used to that, being around the team 24/7 for three and a half months. So I think that was pretty different, but our mindset was always there. We came in with the mindset of, we’re going to come into the Bubble for three and a half months, we might as well make the most of it and win a championship. So, I think our mindset as a team was always there to go out and compete and to finish our job. So it was kinda easy on us to go out and do what we’re supposed to do.
Outside of All-Star and Summer League, there’s not a lot of times where the league is in one place and you see everyone. How did it change your relationship with guys? Was it a chance to get to know folks better, either on the Lakers or just in the league as a whole?
I didn’t hang out with anyone else if they wasn’t on our team, but I think that our team for sure got closer in the Bubble, which was great for us. We did a lot of activities as a team, whether it was video game tournaments or having dinners in our team meal room. Or watching a Verzuz battle, just things like that. We were trying to do as much as we can as a team, because before our families got in, that’s who our family was, and we were going to need everyone on that roster to win a championship. So we just tried to do as much as possible as a team.
Who’s the best gamer on the Lakers?
Depends on the game.
Ok, let’s go Madden.
Quinn Cook. It’s not even close.
Call of Duty.
It’s a couple. It’s a couple guys who are good on the team. We had KCP, JaVale, J.R., myself, Duds, we all kinda played Call of Duty a ton. So that was like our group when we played Call of Duty.
Any time you go through something new you’re going to learn from it. What are the things you’re going to take away from your first championship run?
It’s very tough. I mean, I think mentally that was one of the toughest seasons I’ve had. You know, going from playing to not playing, not knowing if you’re going to play again, and then coming into the Bubble and trying to compete for a championship. Obviously when you win a championship, the next season’s going to be the toughest because you have that target on your back, so — and the more and more you get to the later rounds, the tougher it gets. You can never underestimate your opponent. Guys perform well, guys raise their game. The level, even though we were in the Bubble, the level and intensity was still there, which made it fun.
But it’s tough to do. It’s tough to win a championship, and to do it in the Bubble where guys had to adjust so much. And LeBron won now four, and he said by far that was the toughest one to win. And if he’s saying that was the toughest one to win and that was my first one, I hope the rest is pretty easy [laughs]. But it was fun. I think a lot of guys learned a lot about themselves through the time there, and it’s only going to make them better players.
What are the conversations you’ve been able to have with LeBron about keeping that level and being able to keep yourself at that championship level, because like you said, now everybody’s targeting you. What are the conversations you’ve had about what it takes to maintain that as he has for a decade plus now?
Yeah, we haven’t talked a lot about basketball after the championship. I think that’s something that can be talked about, but during the run he would come to me a lot, especially in the Western Conference Finals and the Finals, and he would always tell me, “Be you. I don’t need you to be nobody else but yourself.” And it was new for me. I’m not saying that it was tough to go out there and play basketball or anything like that, but it was definitely foreign, just cause I’ve never been there. So you would have nerves, even though fans weren’t there I had nerves going into Game 1 of both Western Conference Finals and the Finals just cause I’d never been there before. And I would kind of put pressure on myself, but I realized, I’ve been playing basketball all my life, so there’s no reason to put pressure on myself and I felt like I deserved to be there. So, it was, we never had too many conversations about it, but he would always give me this look or tell me, “Be yourself,” and I ended up being fine.
Celebrating the championship in 2020 is obviously very different than it’d usually be, but you and Mobil 1 are partnered to give away some signed championship apparel. How can Laker fans get involved with that and why is this something you wanted to do for them?
Yeah, like you said, me and Mobil 1 are teaming up again to offer some fans to win some exclusive signed apparel from me. It’ll be 14 fans and the sweepstakes are already open and it’ll be going through the end of the year on December 31. To enter you just go to ProtectYourCourt.com and sign up, and it’ll give you everything you need to know. It’s great for me. Laker fans, even though they couldn’t be there to support us and celebrate us as they would’ve been, it gives me a chance to connect with them and make them feel like they were a part of their championship run. Which they were, and sign some exclusive apparel for them to make them feel special.
This is obviously a crazy condensed offseason. How are you spending it to get some rest and then also balance that rest and getting ready for a season to start in just over a month?
Yeah, [sighs], it’s tough. You want to rest, but you constantly want to work because the season is starting so soon. It’s a balance. Right now I’m training every other day, whereas usually I’d be training every day, but still want to let my body rest and get that healing it needs. So I’m just going every other day and the days I’m not working out just really relaxing and getting treatment, doing some recovery things to help speed up the process.
Is that something you’ve learned over the years from being a young guy in the league is balancing that, because you always want to be in the gym, but work smart and take care of your body?
Absolutely. And I had some guys around me that have been able to help me along the way as far as recovery. The latest is LeBron, but I had Kendrick Perkins and Anthony Morrow, guys always telling me to take care of your body. Coaches, Kobe told me, everybody’s told me a lot about it and obviously you find your own ways to recover, but you know, I never used to ice after games when I was younger and I ice after every game now. Game Ready’s, Normatech, massages, all these things that you can take and do for your body to help it get better, and especially when you’re hurting. And it helps you down the road. It extends your playing career. I’ve found ways that help me that I think is very helpful for my body to recover but at the same time knowing that I have those things, it allows me to work even harder knowing I have the right team around me and the right tools around me to recover after an extraneous workout.
It’s Draft week and for you that’s been eight years since you’ve been drafted. If you could go back and give yourself any advice as a young player coming into the league what would you say?
The advice I’d give myself coming in is, I had this coach Monty Williams who always used to tell me, no matter what goes on, never let anyone steal your joy for the game. You know, and at times during seasons I would get to a point where it’s like, I just wasn’t having fun. That’s when stress comes on, you have a lot of pressure on yourself and things like that and start thinking about other things. And for me, no matter with winning or losing I’ve always tried to enjoy the game of basketball. Knowing, like, it’s a game and you’re going out her to have fun. Obviously you want to compete and win, but your blessed to be in this situation and no matter what goes on, guys are going to get upset, it’s competition and things get heated, but I try to make sure I enjoy playing basketball all the time and that no one or anyone steals my joy for the game.