Absent new contracts for Jay Triano or Bryan Colangelo or a new collective agreement in the NBA, there is precious little the Toronto Raptors or owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment can promise anybody this Thursday morning.
But Terry Davis has a promise for you, Toronto. Come the next NBA season, whenever it is, his son Ed is going to be 15 or 20 pounds heavier. Minimum. The Raptors rookie centre, who did more than merely keep body and soul together despite missing 17 games with a knee injury, already has an inkling he’ll be in the weight room a great deal. But in case he’s forgotten, his ex-NBA tough guy father will remind him the second he steps through the threshold of the family home.
“He’s going to be sleeping in the weight room,” Terry said with a chuckle. “Matter of fact, I already have a pillow for him.”
The Raptors ended another campaign at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night and with the same old faces (Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon) not doing the same old things, the positives are down to the performance of Davis and sophomore DeMar DeRozan and, maybe, James Johnson, Jerryd Bayless and – what the heck, we’re feeling charitable – Amir Johnson. Frankly, you could back up the truck and get rid of everybody else without much of a peep from Raptors fans. The shelf life of Calderon has expired. Gone, like his quickness, and Bargnani’s benign stylings ought not to be far behind.
Davis, the 13th pick overall out of North Carolina, is a keeper, despite needing every inch of his 6-foot-10 frame to carry the 225 pounds he claims. Davis, who turns 21 on June 5, has done more than merely survive. Entering the game Wednesday against the Miami Heat, his 13 double doubles led the Raptors – yeah, yeah, statistics on a bad team and all that stuff – while his field-goal percentage was first among NBA rookies. He was fourth in boards and third in blocks and had a shot at rookie of the month, when he is averaging 34 minutes a game.
For many Raptors fans, Davis arrived on the scene during the Heat’s previous visit, when he knocked former Raptors star Chris Bosh to the floor in a game that the referees handed to the Heat 103-95. Davis had 13 boards, although it mattered not as the officiating crew upheld the established NBA rule that mandates a team with superstars can get away with whatever it wants.
Terry Davis admitted he has been surprised at his son’s productivity. Not that he doubted the talent or the instincts – Terry Davis says his son has a real sense for the game – but, well, that body? Yikes. Yet Davis’ shot-changing wingspan and sure-footedness have stood him in good stead and allowed him to match up with bigger, heavier players.
“The coaching staff there did a really good job developing Ed, to the point where I think he has a home in the NBA,” said Terry, who played 10 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Heat, Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets and was handed the nickname Chop by one of his coaches, Ron Rothstein.
“I just thought he didn’t have the weight, you know?’ Terry continued. “I thought he’d be in a lot of situations where he’d have three, four fouls early. But he’s found a way to hold his own in the paint. It’s a man’s game down there, and Ed hasn’t shied away. I just think he’s going to be a terrific pro.”
That word – pro – might not mean much on its own but when a player calls another player a “pro” it speaks volumes and goes well beyond a father’s pride. And so now Terry will seek to continue his son’s progression as another former NBAer, the sainted if not saintly Charles Oakley, did for him. Oakley, like Terry Davis, was a product of Virginia Union who went on to rampage through the NBA.
“You feed off guys like that,” Terry said. “Oak got me in the weight room and told me if I wanted to stay in the league I needed to be tougher. He taught me how to develop a reputation, and as the years went on, I became more comfortable with it.”
Davis has not yet developed a reputation, but after a season such as the one the Raptors just finished, that may not be an entirely bad thing. The feeling here is he is destined for better and – thanks to the faith of his father – bigger things.