Anthony Davis has been proving his leadership skills, taking some heavy load on his shoulders during the rough first weeks of the 2021-22 season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Davis started the current campaign in style, averaging 23.9 points and 11.1 rebounds in the first 11 games of the year. But perhaps his off-the-court actions speak more to his growth as L.A.’s leader. The 28-year-old All-Star has declared he will accompany his Lakers teammates on the floor until absolutely unable to play.
And in the 126-123 over the Charlotte Hornets, Davis remained in the game despite feeling sick due to lingering stomach issues — spending game-high 44 minutes on the court.
The forward’s presence and leadership are particularly important in the light of LeBron James’ unavailability due to an abdomen injury. Davis said he has embraced his role as the Lakers’ main man, supported by his teammates who encourage him to take the lead.
“Yeah, just leadership,” he said. “Melo is in my ear a lot just about leading the team and controlling the things, especially with LB out. And we don’t have all our guys yet, so guys are playing a lot of minutes right now.
“But it’s my job to make sure that I take command of the team and even when LB is playing. We had a little player meeting early in the season, well before the season, but that was one of the things that guys told me, just make sure I stay in control of the team and just putting guys where they need to be and doing it with leadership, just bring that leadership skill set out and just helping the guys out.
“So that’s just how I do it, that’s definitely the mindset on the team, but especially when LeBron is out.”
Davis said it took some time before he grew comfortable with the leadership role. He credited Rajon Rondo for developing the necessary skills and mindset back when they played in New Orleans together.
“I had to grow into it, for sure, but I’ve been comfortable with that the past three, four or five years,” Davis said. “And it first happened when I was in New Orleans with [Rajon Rondo], he was the first one to kind of like, OK, this is the time where you lead us to wins, to the playoffs or whatever.
“And I don’t have to do as much as Bron, that’s just what he does. So I try lead in other ways. But now that he’s out, we lose his voice and now it’s my time to fill that in.”
Carmelo Anthony disagrees with questioning Davis’ toughness
Davis received plenty of praise for playing through the stomach issues to lead L.A. to the win over Charlotte. Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony said his younger teammate proved those who questioned his toughness wrong with the monster performance against the Hornets.
“I think a lot of times we find a narrative and we try to stick to it, it comes with athletes,” Anthony said.
“I know he’s not. So if I know he’s tough, I know if he’s out there, he can play, he’s gonna play. So that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
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