Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis has fired back at one of the greatest players in NBA history.
11-time All-Star and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has called Davis “Street Clothes” the past two seasons since the Lakers star has only played in 76 games. When Barkley’s comments were relayed to Davis, his jaw tightened and his smile disappeared, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.
“I don’t care what he says,” Davis said. “People say stuff for ratings. Like, they got to push their show, push their blog, push their podcast, whatever it is. So, people got to say something to bring in viewers. It is what it is. I go out there and play basketball and let them do their job. My job is to hoop. Their job is to talk about me.”
Davis averaged 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds last season, which are great numbers. However, he only appeared in 40 games. The All-Star missed 17 games from late December until late January after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then in mid-February, Davis sustained a right mid-foot sprain versus the Utah Jazz, causing him to miss 18 additional games.
Those close to Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in September that the power forward had his best summer of training. AD, who will make $37.9 million this season, wants to play in all 82 games in 2022-23.
“I only got one goal and that is to play in all 82 games,” Davis told Turner. “I want to be available as much as possible for my teammates and my coaches and give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
Davis: ‘I Know I Have to Be Better’
The Lakers have struggled since winning the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat at the Walt Disney World bubble. They lost in the first round of the 2021 playoffs to the Phoenix Suns and didn’t qualify for the 2022 postseason.
Davis, who signed a five-year, $190 million contract with Los Angeles in December 2020, knows he has to play better for the Lakers to get back to the promised land.
“I mean, fans are going to be fans,” Davis told Turner. “Obviously, they want to support their team, they want the best for their team and their players. But they don’t know what happens behind the scenes. All they see is the game. So, they don’t know the stuff that really goes on behind the scenes with the team. But, at the same time, I’m the first one to look in the mirror and see how I can be better.
“I know I have to be better, for sure. I don’t need a fan to tell me that. They want to see their team win and it’s good. When I look at a fan saying all this stuff about you, they know what you can be. They know that you are whatever they think you are. You just got to go out there and do it.”
In 138 regular-season games with the Lakers, Davis is averaging 24.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks. Los Angeles is 75-33 when Davis and LeBron James play, which is good for a stellar winning percentage of .694.
Lakers Will Go as Far as Davis Can Take Them
James is still one of the best players in the NBA despite being 37. However, since the King turns 38 in December, the Lakers need Davis to be their “leader.”
“I’m so excited that I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about this year,” Davis told Haynes. “I’m looking forward to a healthy year and doing what I know we can do. I went into this summer focusing on strengthening my body. I have to be on the court and at my best to put us in position to be our best. I’m ready to do that. All I can do is lead by my actions. I’m excited for this challenge and what’s ahead. I think we have a great group of guys to get the job done. It’s now about putting in the work.”
According to an August 9th report from Haynes, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told James during a private meeting over the summer that he planned on running his offense through Davis in 2022-23. James, one of the top players in NBA history, had no problem with Ham’s decision.