Anthony Davis has plenty to be thankful for as he magically ascends the ranks of the NBA’s most esteemed.
But in Davis’ world, serving and supporting others is what truly makes one a winner. And so, hours before sitting down to partake in his own Thanksgiving Day meal, there stood one of the NBA’s leading, early-season MVP candidates, walking the perimeter of the Smoothie King Center where his New Orleans Pelicans play passing out cash to the homeless living under the nearby bridge lining the team’s arena.
The evening before Thanksgiving, the 21-year-old rising star was again front-and-center within the community, serving the meals he had paid for to the residents residing at the Salvation Army Center for Hope in downtown New Orleans.
“Any time I see a homeless person I give them money if I have cash on me,” Davis said. “You don’t know what they’re going through. You never know. If that were me, I would want someone to help me out. I try to make sure I can help out any way possible.”
That’s the same attitude the all-purpose Davis takes to the court for the Pelicans. Revered as a hybrid of Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, Davis is averaging a career-high 25.4 points, a league-leading 3.3 blocks, and 11.2 rebounds.
But all of it is fueled by his one other primary goal: leading the Pelicans to the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since 2011. New Orleans has averaged 36 wins over his first two full seasons and Davis knows it will take much more to rise to his desired levels in the ultra-competitive West, where the Mavs needed 49 wins last season just to secure the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
But Anthony Davis is ready to face the challenge of it all head on. “We know what we got in this room,” he said of his 7-6 Pelicans. “We know what direction we want to go in and our identity to be.”
The same can be said of the plans Davis has for the city of New Orleans and how he wants to impact it through his charitable endeavors. The runner-up for the NBA’s 2014-15 Community Assist award recently launched his “Flight Academy” program, “an initiative that will consist of monthly community events” throughout the year similar to the Thanksgiving Day supper he hosted at the Center for Hope.
“I was fortunate enough to have food on the table each and every night,” Davis recalled of his Chicago childhood. “But I saw a lot of less fortunate people. During the holidays they’re feeling lonely. I’m trying to brighten up their day, make them feel special.”
The same thing he’s trying to do for Pelicans’ fans.