Ricky Davis: Comeback Over?

By Jordan Fries

Ricky Davis, the former one-and-done Iowa Hawkeye baller and first round NBA draft pick in 1998, appears to be fizzling from the professional basketball landscape after the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Developmental League waived him on Saturday. The Red Claws, an affiliate with the Boston Celtics, were supposed to be a vehicle for the veteran scorer’s return to the NBA after a two-season absence. But after averaging only eight points per contest, Davis didn’t make the cut and it appears league teams are no longer willing to sacrifice team chemistry for the sake of Davis’ lagging hops and one-on-one scoring capability.

Davis, 32, played for six teams in a 10-year NBA career that saw him average 14 points and serve innumerable highlights during the league’s hip-hop heyday, including a self-made triple-double with the Cleveland Cavaliers that drew league ire and a host of acrobatic dunks in his initial years. Known as “Get Buckets” for his scoring proficiency, Davis also began his own fan club, Ricky D’s Renegades (which eventually evolved into the Get Buckets Brigade), and he was always a fan favorite for his athleticism, scoring proficiency, shameless self-promotion, and seeming lunacy.

Despite averaging 21 points per game for the Cavaliers in 2002-03 and maintaing a scoring mark just under 20 for a five-year stretch of his career, Davis will always be remembered more for being somewhat of a self-parody and team cancer whose party hard off-court lifestyle inspired pages of rumors and legends. Davis rarely passed the ball and was more emergency scoring option for desperate teams than valuable complementary piece for young, developing stars during his career.

Although the most successful individual stretch of his NBA tenure took place when he played for Cleveland, Boston, and Minnesota in the mid-2000s, the teams were generally awful and he was shipped out before he could poison players like LeBron James, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, who all went on to experience vast success post-Ricky. It is too early to tell if Eric Gordon’s career was irreparably damaged from his time with Davis in Los Angeles. Davis would go on to play in one playoff series, with the Celtics, for the entirety of his career. Much of his fame came from the time in Boston, when sportswriter Bill Simmons contributed mightily, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, to the absurd humor of the Ricky Davis legacy. So let us all, as NBA fans, bid farewell to the man who went against every proven coaching philosophy known in the span of history, the man who cared more about his own stats than the outcome of a basketball game, and the man who played like we all imagined we would play if we somehow made the league. Farewell Ricky Davis, and thank you making the NBA fun for a decade.

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