Back in the summer of 2007, I was getting ready to start my first post college job, a job at the University of Connecticut, where I’d just finished my undergraduate work a few months before. I worked in the athletic department, as an entry level guy in the ticket and marketing department.
When I started the job in late May, I quickly realized the whole situation was both a gift and a curse. On the one hand, having worked in the department as an undergrad, I knew many of my new co-workers, and had a pretty good understanding of what my responsibilities would be, even before my first day. How many people can say that as they get ready to start a new job? I didn’t even have to move apartments, at least not right away.
On the other hand, I was an adult now, living near a college campus, my old stomping ground. Just a few months before, my only care in the world was trying to figure out which bar had the best deal on Thursday night’s, and now I was a professional in the same place where many of my good friends were still students. Suffice to say, some were even on the Tommy Boy six-year plan.
I distinctly remember the conflict of interest coming to light one night in June, when my old neighbor invited me over to watch the first game of the NBA Finals. She was friendly with a few players on the basketball team- a group of guys I’d be working closely with once the season started- and I wasn’t entirely comfortable hanging out with them in a social setting. She wasn’t sure if they’d come over or not, so I decided to swing by.
Of course right on cue, within a minute or two of me getting there, a player showed up with someone- who was clearly a basketball player- that I wasn’t particularly familiar with. Turns out, it was one of the most sought after high school senior’s to be in the country, Ed Davis.
At 17, Davis didn’t carry himself like a McDonalds All-American, but more like a little brother tagging with his big bro to watch the game. He sat quietly in the corner, intently following the action on the screen, seeming to enjoy LeBron James’ first NBA Finals game. Then again, you didn’t really know if he was enjoying himself or not, since he didn’t say anything. Davis only spoke when spoken to, but when we did finally sneak a few words out of him, it turned out he was not only insightful, but you could tell how passionate about the game he was.
What I’ll always remember about that night though, is that after not saying a word to me the entire evening, when I got up to leave, Davis was quick to say goodbye, and tell me how nice it was to meet me. This to someone he’d met only hours before. I couldn’t help but appreciate the poise of a 17-year-old to say that to his senior. I don’t know if I’d have done the same at his age.
I hadn’t thought much about that day with Davis these past few years, as he went to North Carolina and won a National Championship as a key role player his freshman year. The only time he crossed my mind was when I wondered if maybe he was the missing piece that could have propelled UConn to the title in 2009, instead of playing the same role as a Tar Heel.
But for the first time in a long time on Thursday, I did think back to that night in June 2007, as I watched that quiet kid I met in June 2007, become a man on a June night in 2010. He walked to podium with poise to shake David Stern’s hand, and answered Mark Jones’ questions insightfully.
I don’t know what Davis’ NBA future holds for him, but I do know one thing: He was a good kid at 17, and it seems like only maturity has changed him now.
The Raptors got a good basketball player in the 2010 NBA Draft. They got a good person, too.