Celtics are making sure Davis knows how lucky he is to be in the Finals his first season
Celtics rookie Glen "Big Baby" Davis, seen above resting before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, said getting to the NBA Finals could be a "once in a lifetime" accomplishment. (AP Photo)
P.J. Brown is making his first NBA Finals appearance in his 15th season. Kevin Garnett is making his first in his 13th season, while fellow All-Stars Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are making it at seasons 12 and 10, respectively.
And with his teammates in mind, Celtics forward Glen Davis is making sure he is very appreciative of making the Finals in his rookie season.
"You've got Ray 12 years, P.J. 15. This is my first year in the league," said Davis. "To get a chance to win a championship as a rookie, they bring it up to my attention all the time that this chance I have is once in a lifetime sometimes. So you've basically got to understand the situation that you're in, and basically be ready when it's your time."
Playing on the championship stage is nothing new for Davis.
The Baton Rouge native won the state title at University High School. He played on Louisiana State University's 2006 Final Four team. And now at age 22, "Big Baby" is playing in the Finals, against the Lakers.
Davis said he has received numerous congratulatory phone calls from the likes of ex-LSU coach John Brady, Oklahoma State assistant Butch Pierre, who coached Davis at LSU, and former LSU teammate Tyrus Thomas of the Bulls.
"I'm a lucky individual," Davis said. "A lot of people can't say they've done that on every level, they've been on a championship team or been to the championship. So hopefully we can get this one down. I thought about that on the way back from Detroit on the plane after the game [Friday night]."
Of all the Celtics keeping Davis grounded, the one who has been in his ear most is guard Sam Cassell. Cassell won NBA titles during his first two seasons with the Rockets, in 1994 and 1995, but he hasn't been back to the Finals until now.
"Sam can understand that," Davis said. "He won a championship his first two years in the league. That's one of the guys who I can relate to. He understands that everything you do is magnified because you're a rookie. You're a whipping boy sometimes [as a rookie].
"He totally understands my situation. He said, 'You have to always remember this moment because it can set your career for the rest of your life.' "
Davis said he has never had problems being overwhelmed in public because he played for the Celtics. But Saturday, while hanging out with his girlfriend at the Natick Collection, he was surrounded by a horde of fans and needed security to exit.
"My girlfriend and I were [at a store] and we couldn't walk out," Davis said. "It got flooded. People were saying, 'Congratulations.' People were buying Big Baby T-shirts for me to sign. I was like, 'Oh my, where did you get this T-shirt from.' It was crazy.
"Even [at] the Final Four, I've never been in a situation before where I had to get mall security. We came out of the store and everyone was like, 'Hey.' It just caught on like wildfire. I didn't want to come out of the store."
Another rookie, guard Gabe Pruitt, who hasn't been on the active roster during the postseason, is getting some good experience from the Celtics being in the Finals, said Davis.
"As far as experiencing this and the atmosphere and learning what the team expects from each player in the playoffs, he's learning so much, even though he's not playing, by just being around," Davis said.
The Celtics have been off since winning the Eastern Conference title by knocking off the Pistons Friday. They will return to practice late this morning. Davis did a cardiovascular workout at his apartment gym yesterday and said he was going to work out with Celtics assistant Clifford Ray last night.
With just the mention of the Finals instantly bringing a big smile to Davis's face, he doesn't expect reality to hit until Game 1 Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden.
"I don't think it's going to hit me until the first game when it says NBA Finals on the T-shirts and the jerseys and when we're in the layup line," Davis said.
"A lot of people don't even get a chance to be in the conference finals. And here I am in my first year in the league being able to play in the conference finals and also be there in the Finals.
"It's unbelievable to be a part of that."