This Wednesday night, on primetime national television, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis will make his return to New Orleans after forcing his way out of the organization this past June with two years still left on his contract.
ESPN will be live from the Smoothie King Center to bring you all of what should be quite the emotional evening for both sides.
Davis was seen as the saving grace in NOLA, coming in as the No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick back in 2012. He more than lived up to the heaps of hype that were rested upon his brow, but the Pelicans posted only two winning seasons that resulted in just two playoff appearances during seven seasons with the former Kentucky big.
Davis has been a consensus top-10 player for years now, but was never put in an opportunity that could fully utilize his talents. Pairing up with LeBron James in Hollywood has put the rest of the league on notice.
In his first season as a Laker working alongside one of the best players of all time, Davis has guided Los Angeles to an NBA-leading 15-2 record that includes a current winning streak of eight games. The schedule up until this point hasn’t been menacing by any means, but that all changes on Wednesday. Not because of the quality of the opponent, but because of the unique circumstances.
In a sit-down interview with Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, Davis divulged some of his thoughts heading into his first official return to the court he called his own for the first seven years of Hall-of-Fame NBA career.
Anthony Davis on his New Orleans return Wednesday and one thing he’d redo in final days as a Pelican: “That’s a game of the year for me. New Orleans is a part of me.” From my sit-down with the Lakers star on @Stadium. pic.twitter.com/Wjbw7RONLu
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 26, 2019
To open the video, Charania immediately asks Davis if he has any regrets about how the debacle with himself and the Pelicans franchise went down, which he quickly replied with a “No”, but did say there was one particularly bad look he wishes he could redo.
“I probably would have never flicked the fan off,” Davis said as he lowers his brow and lets out an awkward laugh.
Davis went on to say that he got caught up in the moment of everything that had been released to the public and all of the backlash he received after his trade request that his emotions just let out at once.
Those emotions might resurface on Wednesday, but they’ll be coming from a different place for Davis. His nerves are going to be in the clouds.
“I don’t know,” Davis said when asked about what his emotions will be like once he makes his return. “I’ve been so accustomed to being in New Orleans and I love that city. I love the city of New Orleans… And it was tough for me to walk away from that, so when I go back I’m gonna have mixed emotions.”
Davis knows he’s going to get boo’d – it happened while he was still in a Pelicans jersey. But says he really just wants to walk out of New Orleans with a win. He still isn’t quite sure if they’ll be giving him a tribute video or not, either
But Davis isn’t the only player making a return in the Lakers-Pelicans showdown. There are also three trade-baits. The three players – Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram – that were sacrificed form the Lakers’ young core in order to secure a trade for Davis.
While Ball is actually listed as questionable due to a stomach virus and Hart is still questionable following his absence from the last seven games, Ingram is staying silent with the media.
Brandon Ingram on facing the Lakers: “No bad blood. Nothing but respect for the Lakers organization.”
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 26, 2019
But Ingram did quickly follow up that statement with this Instagram post (shoutout to Anthony Irwin at Silver Screen and Roll for the find).
Just as he finishes practice, Brandon Ingram sends out this message on IG. pic.twitter.com/zee49WwuaI
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) November 26, 2019
Davis told The Athletic‘s Bill Oram that “those guys [Ball, Hart, Ingram] are going to try to take our heads off just to prove a point.”
All eyes are going to be glued to their televisions at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday; not because of who is playing, but because of how they all got there.