‘Suns in 4’: Why Brennen Davis chose baseball, reps NBA

USA Today

The Phoenix Suns’ colors flashed up the steps of the first-base dugout – purple fading into orange, fading into yellow across Brennan Davis’ cleats, as the Cubs prospect jogged onto Coors Field.

Hours before the Suns and Bucks met in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Davis started in right field in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. He was named the showcase’s MVP, going 2-for-3 with two home runs in the National League’s 8-3 win over the American League.

He wore his club’s logo on his hat and his hometown NBA team’s logo on his cleats.

“I definitely played more basketball growing up,” Davis said, laughing. “So, I was always idolized those guys and thought the world of them.”

Davis, the Cubs’ top position-player prospect, didn’t fully commit to baseball until his senior year of high school. Coming off a state basketball title with Basha High School, the same year he won the region’s defensive play of the year, Davis told his basketball coach he was hanging it up to focus on baseball.

“I didn't want to be good at two sports,” Davis said. “I wanted to be great at one. And baseball, I saw myself going further.”

Now poised to become a member of the Cubs’ next young core, Davis seems to have made the right decision for his career. The Cubs’ system is better for it, as the organization prepares to retool. And for Major League Baseball, which keeps losing young fans and players to the NBA and NFL, Davis picking baseball was a win.


“Baseball is a grind; you’ve got to love it,” Davis said. “So, I think it's a decision that the kid has to make. I don't think it can be forced onto somebody -- but just giving them the tools and the opportunity to show them how fun the game is.”

On the other side of the diamond in Sunday’s Futures Game, the American League squad’s manager knew exactly what it’s like to choose between baseball and basketball.

LaTroy Hawkins, whose two-decade MLB career included a stint with the Cubs in the mid-2000s, passed up basketball scholarships to sign with the Twins when they drafted him out of high school.

“I’ll never forget,” Hawkins said, “my grandfather was like, ‘Well, son, you’re a much better baseball player than basketball player.’”

After balking at the suggestion at first, Hawkins took to into consideration his grandfather’s scouting report and breakdown of the number of roster spots in each sport.

On the flip side, Hawkins is the godfather of the most high-profile athlete to spurn baseball in recent years – Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“He was going to go from college to play on Sundays,” Hawkins said, “or he was going to go from college to go ride a bus in the minor leagues. That doesn't make sense. Especially at his position.”

How can baseball retain more multi-sport athletes?

“I wish I had that answer,” Hawkins said. “Baseball is so freaking hard. Guys know that.”

Sunday’s Futures Game was about celebrating the rising stars that had chosen baseball.

When Davis took stepped into that national stage, he wanted to represent the Valley of the Sun, where he’d grown up. So, he turned to his Double-A Tennessee Smokies teammate Alex Katz, who founded Stadium Custom Kicks.

“No better way than to support your hometown team,” Davis said.

The final product, bathed in Suns colors, displayed the team logo and “RALLY THE VALLEY” in white print on the right foot. The left referenced a viral video from this year’s NBA playoffs: “SUNS IN 4.”

The Suns, who enter play Sunday up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series against the Bucks, are making their first finals appearance since 1993 – six years before Davis was born.  


“To have them in the finals now is unbelievable,” Davis said.

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