Before Anthony Davis officially became basketball’s next big thing, he won a gold medal alongside the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Kevin Durant as a member of Team USA. The on-court lessons he learned from the game’s greatest players in London have surely been instrumental to his meteoric rise up the NBA’s individual hierarchy. To help the perpetually snake-bitten New Orleans Pelicans emerge the Western Conference cellar, though, Davis is taking intangible guidance from one of his former Olympic teammates in particular.
In a story about the 23-year-old’s desire to become a better leader this season, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding recalls advice Davis once received from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
“A guy has something in his teeth, and other guys just talk to him and let him be. They’re not going to tell him,” Bryant told Davis. “I’m going to be the guy to tell you you’ve got something between your teeth. Then it’s on you whether you want to walk around looking stupid. But I am going to tell you.”
The notion that leadership is best derived from direct action isn’t a consensus. Tim Duncan, for instance, is one of the most inspirational and beloved teammates in history of the NBA despite a far more hands-off approach. But Bryant’s counsel loomed large to Davis nonetheless, and he’s planning on implementing it in 2017-17 after realizing his more natural tendencies weren’t getting the job done.
“I was always a guy who was quiet on the basketball floor,” Davis says, noting how Kendrick Perkins and Quincy Pondexter were more equipped with experience to be team leaders last season. “Even in high school, at Kentucky, here, I was always a quiet guy. Outside the locker room, we can talk and kid all day. But I’ve always just been a guy who is real laid-back.