Anthony Davis is one of a handful of Chicago products participating in the city’s first All-Star weekend in over three decades. But, in his youth, he didn’t take the most conventional of paths.
Davis, an Englewood native, attended Perspectives High School for four years — far from a household program in the illustrious realm of Chicago basketball (he remains the school’s only graduate to reach the NBA and one of three to go Division 1). Though he eventually committed to the University of Kentucky as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Davis said during his All-Star media session that he at one point weighed transferring out — to Simeon Career Academy.
Why? Davis said that, growing up in the city, one of his biggest inspirations was Derrick Rose.
“Rose is still one of my favorites to watch. Even when I was considering — well, I wouldn't say consider, but I had the thought of leaving Perspectives — it was actually probably going to be (for) Simeon because of Derrick Rose,” Davis said. “He's one of the guys who I think every guy underneath him looked up to because of the things he did for the city.”
As he matured, that appreciation only grew.
“And then him actually getting drafted to the Bulls and doing what he did, that whole run, I think that's inspiring for all of us,” Davis said.
Rose’s Bulls tenure, of course, ended unceremoniously, after multiple knee injuries and a fraught relationship with the media hampered what appeared to be a career destined for legendary status. A civil suit filed against him in 2016 alleging rape (of which he was found “not liable”) also contributed to his fall from grace. As Rose meandered through brief stops in New York and Cleveland, his future in the NBA loomed uncertain.
Now, he’s enjoying his best season since being traded from Chicago in Detroit with the Pistons. Davis welcomed Rose’s reascension, citing his 50-point outing with Minnesota last season as “emotional” and even alluding to rumors that the Lakers pursued making a deal for Rose at February’s trade deadline.
“His love for the game has brought him back. You know, he could have easily [taken] the out and quit or retired or whatever, but he made sure he stuck with it, and now he's the best player for the Pistons, man. He got his game back,” Davis said. “Obviously you saw something about [the Lakers] trying to get him, but he's a guy who's been very very great for the game of basketball.
“D-Rose is back. Him being from Chicago, me being from Chicago, I was happy for him, happy to see him doing well.”
It all speaks to the fraternity of Chicago basketball. Davis said he continues to give back to and check in on the progress Perspectives’ program, and used the success of Kendrick Nunn in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday and Patrick Beverly’s participation in the Skills Challenge on Saturday as a vehicle to double down on his assertion that Chicago is the Mecca of basketball.
“Proving my point. Making a strong case for what I said. I think all the Chicago guys represent Chicago well,” Davis said.
As for his own excitement, being back in his home city (and playing in the same arena he took part in the McDonald’s All-American game back in 2011)?
“To get back here and play in front of the fans in a place where I grew up, in a place where I had my first big-time game… It’s very exciting.”