Anthony Davis Is Making His L.A. Dream Work For Him

LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis sprawls out as much as a low-profile leather armchair in the green room of the Ace Theater will let him. They don’t really make furniture for people 6’10, especially not furniture found in an area typically reserved for musicians. He wears a look that constantly vacillates between smirk, intense attention, and scowl, all three smaller parts of a whole that is hellbent on putting the pieces together in realtime. Across from him is a well-placed bunch of chip bags, Ruffles of course, in his new signature flavor for visibility and potential snack purposes.

Davis has already perfected the COVID-19 mandated fist bump and elbow bump for precautionary sake, and settles into the chair further. He’s the face of national campaigns, he’s on the Western Conference’s top team, and he’s receiving MVP chants nightly. But to this point, until a presentation downtown with almost his entire team in the front two rows, his coach giving a speech, and former Lakers greats and other VIPs present, he hasn’t taken on a L.A. centric company to partner with. Becoming the face of First Entertainment changes that.

“A credit union?” Davis jokes during a panel discussion with the company’s CMO Amondo Redmond about an hour prior to his much-needed quiet backstage. “That doesn’t fit the AD brand. But once I learned about what they’re doing, it fit exactly what I’m doing.”

What Davis is doing is merging his two worlds — off court and on court — quietly in the entertainment center of the universe. He’s using his Klutch Sports team and teammate LeBron James to do so, and the vast array of knowledge available to him (from former Lakers to business owners to his own teammates) is only strengthening that bond. Some people let L.A. change them; Davis is committed to changing L.A. through the power he wields.

The Lakers big turned 27 on Wednesday, and seemingly has the whole world in front of him, even if that world is filtered through a gold and purple lens. His L.A. dream is taking shape, and it’s hard to imagine him bolting after this summer with the investment he’s made in his teammates as well as becoming the multi-year face of a local credit union. DIME had the chance to catch up with Davis for a few minutes and discussed feeling at home, the trust he has in his teammates, and the power of saying no.

You see almost your entire team show up to support you in something like this. There’s obviously a Lakers partnership. What does this mean to you and how at home do you feel about it?

Yeah, it means a lot. And to be able to have the whole team here, having the whole First Entertainment company here, even if I didn’t feel at home, I kind of felt at home today. And for people to enjoy the film. Even in the film, I said I know I wasn’t raised here, I’m here a lot in the summer time, so I definitely feel at home. Having all the support that I’ve had throughout this entire process. Making it feel like it’s home. Even when it’s not home. So, they did a great job of putting that together.

On the court, it’s almost a similar thing, you’ve got to feel each other out. You get used to the team and then you get to a position where that trust is built. Even in a game where, maybe things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to per se but you guys trust that you guys can put it together. Whether it’s you looking to LeBron, or anyone else, or anyone looking to you. How does that chemistry continue to develop as you go and just how comfortable do you feel playing with these guys?

Very comfortable. We’ve played 60-plus games now, so I think if we’re not comfortable and don’t trust each other now then we’re in trouble. And it just shows how close we are, how much we trust everybody, on off days coming here to come support me through this time. It’s something special that means a lot to me. A lot of guys — Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley, Markieff Morris, JaVale McGee, KCP — all these guys came here and took time out of their day to come out here and support me and sit in on the talk and watch the film. So, it shows what type of team we are and that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in.

When you look at projects, you said, “I won’t do anything that’s not for the AD Brand.” How have you built that brand and how do you get to a place where you know what you can say yes to and just that power of being able to say no in a situation?

Well, you can say yes and no to whatever you want to. And that’s just not with me, that’s with anybody in life. You’re not obligated to do anything. The only thing you’ve got to do is pay taxes and die, that’s it. So for me, it’s what am I comfortable with? Ten, 15, 20 years from now am I going to look back at it, is it going to be something I regret? Or is it something that I’m going to say I’m proud of? That’s the kind of things that go through my head as I’m choosing to go with a partnership or not. And, like I said, it’s a no-brainer trying to teach people who really don’t have the resources about financial literacy. That’s the kind of thing I’m on because I know what it was like. I came in at 19 years old and they’re like, “here’s your first contract.” Millions of dollars, shoe deal, endorsement.

It was like, what do I do with all this? And if I didn’t have the people I had in my circle and the team around me, like a lot of guys don’t when they come into the league, it can go south very quickly. And so that’s one thing that I did want to do. And I think reaching out to athletes first coming to the league or the entertainers first getting started, or whoever. Anybody in life who wants to be successful and is starting to feel some type of success, I think it’s good to kind of just give them knowledge about financial literacy and let them know the ins and outs of it from a guy who has been in it for eight years. Not long but — I’ve been thrown a lot money, and I could say that if I retired today I’ll be more than fine.

It’s interesting in a place like this, the power of being here even for a brief period of time you make all these connections. People you wouldn’t meet in another place, but not just that, you have this network of Lakers. Those guys are a knowledge base too and you’re someone who definitely taps into that … You know the power of that.

Absolutely. And there’s no better place to be if you aspire to do anything in the world. L.A. is a place where opportunity presents itself to you. Or you can go out and find it, it’s very easy to find. And so I feel like if you want to do anything, this is the place. And that’s the power that we have especially as entertainers, athletes, artists. You’re in a city where, it’s funny saying it like that, “all dreams apply here” but it’s true. A lot of people come to L.A. for their dreams and I think when you’re here and you’re able to get started and feel good and you have that power. You know, going back to that earlier question, what people to say yes and no to.

Just being here I’ve had a lot more opportunities than I had before and I think that for all the other guys too, I’ve connected with guys that I really like and I trust and people inside the organization, around the organization and outside looking in that’s close to the organization that I’ve been able to connect with that can also help me along the way for life after basketball.

So being here can empower you to do a lot of things. No other city, especially in the United States, can help you do that.