Kentucky's Davis ready to begin living the dream

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2012 

  • NBA draft

    When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

    Where: The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

    TV: ESPN (Coverage begins at 7 p.m.)

    Twitter: Follow staff writer @JerryTipton all evening live from Newark.

    See Page B2 for the full draft order.

NEW YORK — As unlikely as it might seem, it was Craig Sager, whose flashy attire distinguishes his sideline reporting at NBA games, who made former Kentucky All-American Anthony Davis realize his basketball dream was about to come true.

Sager played dream weaver simply by interviewing Davis and UK teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in preparation for the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

"It finally hit us," Davis said Wednesday. "We're actually here."

Yes, Davis confirmed, Sager's attire fit his loud-as-Times Square trademark.

"Oh, it was crazy," Davis said before adding diplomatically, "but it looked nice, though."

Speaking of trademarks, Davis also confirmed that he had sought to legally own the catchphrases that go along with his now-famous unibrow. The Christian Science Monitor noted how the former UK star had followed the licensing footsteps of New York Knicks' brief sensation Jeremy Lin ("Linsanity") and pro quarterback Tim Tebow ("Tebowing").

"Actually, I had nothing to do with that, to be honest with you," Davis said of trademarking phrases dealing with the unibrow. "My parents and my agent just told me that they'd done it."

Davis' reaction?

"What are you talking about?" he said. "I didn't know."

His parents and agent told him "a couple days" after seeking to trademark what became at UK his signature facial feature, Davis said.

When a reporter noted how others had benefited financially from eyebrow phrases while he played for Kentucky last season, Davis noted the difference now. "Let somebody else grow one," he quipped.

To explain the unibrow phenomenon, Davis said, "It's self-explanatory, I guess."

He likened it to the Fear the Beard boomlet that accompanied the pitching success of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson in recent baseball seasons.

Of such phrases as Fear the Brow, Raise the Brow and Bow to the Brow, Davis said, "I've heard everything. I've heard it all."

Davis continued to refuse to take it for granted that he will be the No. 1 pick in the draft. As if not to jinx the widespread view that the New Orleans Hornets will take Davis with the first pick, he said, "A lot of guys are nervous. I'm nervous. I don't know. New Orleans may do something else."

But Davis acknowledged what it will mean to be the second UK player in three seasons to be the first selection.

"That's going to be a lot of pressure," said Davis, who noted how veteran players can ease the transition to the NBA.

Although considered a once-a-decade kind of talent, Davis braced himself for the possibility of losing multiple games. John Wall, who in 2010 became the first UK player taken with an NBA Draft's No. 1 pick, has not yet led the Washington Wizards to great success. The Wizards have this year's third pick, and had a lottery selection last year, as well.

"I know it's going to take time to rebuild," Davis said. "It's not going to be the way you want. ...

"It's all mental. You've got to be mentally ready."

Davis saluted UK Coach John Calipari for bringing him along slowly this past season. As the weeks and months unfolded, Calipari added to Davis' responsibilities.

"He wasn't going to rush me into anything and make me look bad on the floor when he knew I wasn't used to things," Davis said.

Davis had been a guard, and thought of himself as a perimeter player, until his well-chronicled growth spurt going into his junior season of high school.

"He knew to bring you along through the season," Davis said of Calipari, "and make you a better player."

At this point, Davis is being interviewed by Craig Sager. He's appearing on late-night talk shows.

"You just try to have fun with it," he said. "Downplay it."

Davis hopes to make the U.S. Olympic team. "I know it'll be very hard," he said of this preview taste of competing against men in their 20s and 30s.

Repeatedly, reporters asked Davis to all but predict the future. For instance, he declined to say how he will react when he hears his name called, presumably as the New Orleans Hornets' pick.

"I'm not sure," he said. "I'll be in the moment."

But amid his careful responses, Davis allowed that he could be something special.

"I want to go with the mentality of working hard," he said before adding, "and be one of the best who ever played the game."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog:

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