Before the season, it seemed fitting that Baron Davis chose to don No. 1 for the Los Angeles Clippers, as the fate of the franchise has fallen on his shoulders. Despite falling on hard times this season, if that other team in Los Angeles is ever going to turn things around, they need B-Dizzle to be an integral part.
I got up with BD in the first half of the season to talk about his new signature shoe, the LI-NING BD-Pre, Team USA in 2012, and the dunk. While half of this interview was printed in Dime #47, I thought I’d let you read the whole thing…
Dime: Talk about your trendsetting sneaker and apparel deal with Li-Ning.
Baron Davis: I wanted to have a strong presence and name-recognition outside the US. With my entertainment company, Verso, and competition-based website ibeatyou.com, there are a lot of branding opportunities for things that I am a part of. I want to think beyond what is available to us as athletes in the United States and be a part of companies that have similar goals and values that I do.
Dime: Will you have an active role in the product development and branding of the line?
BD: Most definitely. I worked a lot with design team in Portland to develop a world-class shoe, and as we move forward, I will work a lot on the apparel as well â€“ and I get to honestly say I have a hand in everything that has my name on it. I’ve always liked to be one step ahead of the game, and the opportunity to be hands-on with a company that has global outreach was a great opportunity.
Dime: As a former Reebok guy, do you see other NBA guys following suit and signing deals not only overseas, but with smaller companies such as Under Armour (i.e. Brandon Jennings)?
BD: There is usually risk in any partnership, whether it’s considered traditional or non-traditional. The Li-Ning slogan of “Anything is Possible,” truly fits with how I live my life. I didn’t want to do what 99% of other athletes do. Sports is becoming so much more global, and there are so many resources available to us as professional athletes, it’s just a matter of whether or not you can take advantage of those opportunities.
Dime: Speaking of Brandon Jennings, what do you think of the Los Angeles point guard’s decision to skip college and play in Italy this year?
BD: Every case is unique with athletes making the decision as to when they start their pro career. I think it’s cool; definitely shows some maturity on his part. Living overseas isn’t easy, but I know his game is improving and I’m sure he’s going to come back with a different outlook on some things. I wish I could go live in Rome for a year… Maybe when my NBA career is over!
Dime: Back in high school, you announced that you were going to UCLA on live television during a pre-game show prior to a game between the Clippers and Jazz. Do you find it fitting that you could perhaps now end your career in Los Angeles?
BD: I hope so. You never know what the future holds, but there is room enough in this town for two successful teams, and I want to be a part of making the Clippers a winning franchise.
Dime: Most guys wouldn’t take a $6 million pay cut in the League â€“ especially to play for a team with 25 fewer wins. What was the draw, besides coming home, to play for the Clippers?
BD: One of the main reasons I decided to come home is that I want to really make an impact within the community that I grew up in. There are so many kids out there who need activities to be a part of. They need guidance, leadership and someone to set an example for them. I look at what Magic Johnson has done for the city of Los Angeles, and I want to do the same thing. I want to make positive changes for the children growing up in Los Angeles.
Dime: Your arrival in Los Angeles this summer was highlighted by throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers game and your “Step Brothers” movie with Steve Nash. When will we see your star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
BD: I like being behind the camera, but you never know, maybe someday! But definitely not until my basketball career has been over for a very long time.
Dime: If you could greenlight a project featuring any member of the Clippers, who would it be and why?
BD: Chris Kaman. He’s such a funny guy off the court and always coming up with the craziest things. Never a dull moment being around him.
Dime: Have you started a book club for the Clippers like you did with the Warriors?
BD: Not yet. We’ve basically got a whole new squad this year, and we’re still working on learning the playbook first, then maybe we’ll get into some other reading.
Dime: You’ve said it would be an honor to play for Team USA in London in 2012. Do you think this could become a reality?
BD: I would be deeply honored if asked to play. They put together a squad of some of the best players in the world, so to be a part of that, and to represent the United States of America is something I would love to do.
Dime: As an outspoken supporter for Barack Obama, run me through November 4th for you.
BD: That was one of the most amazing days in the history of our country. I was at home watching all the election results, and to see Barack Obama up there giving his acceptance speech was something truly special. He’s such an inspiring figure and I think he will do great things for our country, and for the world. Watching him up there, giving his speech is something I will never, ever forget.
Dime: From a two-bedroom home in South Central to a house in Las Vegas’ most exclusive private country club, Southern Highlands Golf Club. Do you ever wake up and wonder how it all happened?
BD: I feel thankful and blessed everyday. I’m still a young guy so I’ve got a lot more to learn, and a lot more to improve upon. No way is the story over, still a lot more work to be done.
Dime: Tell me about the dunk on Andrei Kirilenko.
BD: I know that dunk gets a lot of hype, but from a basketball standpoint, I took a handoff from Biedrins, and once I saw Kirilenko coming in late, I thought I’d have enough room to take off. Some people say I fouled him with my off-arm, but there was contact on both our parts. Just the reaction from my teammates and the crowd was unbelievable, that’s definitely what I remember. We had a great playoff run that year, just wish the Jazz series would have favored us in the end.
Dime: I couldn’t not talk about you becoming a spokesman for Jenny Craig. How did you get linked up with that?
BD: It was a mutual partnership. They were looking for an athlete to endorse their Jenny Direct program, and I was looking for a new, healthy way to mix-up my off-season training regimen. It’s easy for me to gain weight, so incorporating their plan into my overall lifestyle was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel great, and hopefully in the process have inspired others to get in shape and learn more about diet and nutrition.