Golden State Warriors
Posted on Fri, Apr. 21, 2006
A humbled Davis looks in the mirror
WARRIORS STAR SHOULDERS SOME BLAME FOR LOST SEASON
By Marcus Thompson II
Baron Davis looks back at a frustrating year, and looks forward to coming back strong.
It was unlike his typical interviews. There was no joking, no lively vibe, no brash promises. Just frustrated eyes, a mellow tone, meek words.
``I'm not saying nothing,'' Warriors point guard Baron Davis said Thursday. ``Everybody just sit back and watch. I don't think I'm in position to really say much of anything but to apologize for not being out there.''
Of course, Davis -- just before speaking to participants in a Warriors camp held at Cupertino High School -- did say something. Speaking with local beat writers for the first time in over a month, he avoided going into much detail about what went wrong this season or addressing some of the issues surrounding the team. But he did express disappointment and frustration -- with himself.
A disappointing season, apparently, has humbled Davis. Being out of the playoffs, missing 28 games because of injury, shooting under 40 percent, losing favor with the fans -- it seems to have him soul-searching.
The good news, for Warriors fans, is that it has returned Davis to a familiar disposition -- carrying a chip on his shoulder.
Once seen as the franchise savior, Davis is viewed as the scapegoat by some, who now question whether he can rescue the Warriors from postseason exile.
Now, Davis is on a mission, a silent one. Operation Show and Prove.
``I just feel like I've got a lot to prove,'' Davis said. ``I feel like people are counting me out, writing me off, and that's the best. I live for that.''
Davis, 27, said the last time he felt this way was the 2003-04 season. He responded by posting the best season of his career: 22.9 points, 7.5 assists, an All-Star team berth and an All-NBA third-team selection.
His mindset heading into the off-season is vital to the Warriors' future. Taking on the remaining four years and $63 million of Davis' contract, which will pay him $15.07 million next season, has the Warriors heading toward paying a luxury tax.
Because of the cap space his contract eats and the fact he is the most talented player on the roster, any chance the Warriors have lies with Davis. They need him motivated and at the top of his game.
The disappointment of this season might be enough to get him there. Davis acknowledged not living up to the hype he came in with and said he wasn't the leader he wanted to be.
``It just didn't happen,'' Davis said. ``Maybe I didn't win enough people over or maybe I didn't do the things necessary from my standpoint to be that.''
He said this off-season is going to be different. After spending last off-season resting his sore body, Davis said he's ready to get back to work this summer.
First, he has to get healthy. He's back in a protective boot because of a setback in his rehab for a bone bruise in his right foot and a sprained right ankle sustained Feb. 11. He said the bone bruise was what kept him out of the Warriors' final 19 games and he expressed regret for coming back for six games in March, which he said made the injury worse.
Still, he said the injury wouldn't interrupt his off-season workout plans. He said the boot comes off in three weeks. After that, he goes to work.
After a sour ending to his stint in New Orleans, Davis may be losing the benefit of the doubt. Warriors fans are certainly weary of excuses and empty promises and just want someone to deliver.
In the past, Davis was likely to boast that he was the man for the job. But now, broken down by injuries and shortcomings this season, he's changing his tune.
He knows what's expected of him. He knows what he needs to do. He knows it's time to shut up and produce.
``I was brought here to help this team win, so I put it all on my shoulders,'' Davis said. ``I don't care. It don't matter to me. I've got big shoulders.''
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