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Baron Davis Returning to UCLA to Complete History Degree

We’ve taken exception with Baron Davis’ off-court behavior throughout his career. He’s spent his free time producing movies, developing websites, and working on many other business ventures. He just never expressed a desire to be great on the court and instead wanted to use the fame and money basketball provided him to build a higher profile elsewhere. It’s understandable that he has greater goals than what he aspires to achieve on the court, but he has a responsibility as a basketball player that he doesn’t seem to take seriously enough.

Davis has been benched for partying before games, he’s put on weight before seasons, and admitted he was out of shape. As a result of his lack of desire to be great, our expectations of him on the court have adjusted accordingly. He’s just another point guard in the NBA, nothing more, nothing less.

But now Baron has an off-court venture we can support. Baron Davis is returning to UCLA to complete his history degree, following the advice of his deceased grandmother who encouraged him to do so. He actually is expressing some sound perspective too.

“All the classes I’m signed up for are things I want to learn now,” Baron told reporters. “When you’re in school, you’re studying stuff wondering ‘How am I going to use that in life’ or ‘What does that matter to me?’ Then you get out in the world and you start traveling and history becomes one of the most important things. Now my brain is ready to receive that more than when I was 19 years old and I wanted to dribble [basketballs] all day.”

I understand where he’s coming from because there were times many of us felt the same way. Like I said, many of his off-court ventures have been questionable, but it’s hard not to support this one.

Baron Davis Admits He Was Out of Shape

It’s amazing that a little over two years ago I was talking about the Clippers as a real contender when they signed Baron Davis. The excitement quickly ended when it was learned that Elton Brand would leave for Philadelphia, making the Baron signing seem like a waste of money.

The problematic point guard has been through a number of issues since returning to LA, and weight concerns have followed him the past few years. Baron did not play for the Clippers on Monday and is unlikely to play for them on Wednesday because of a knee injury. The team is 0-4 and Davis is shooting just 32% on the season with an assist-to-turnover ratio under two. Coach Vinny Del Negro blamed the knee injury on Baron being out of shape entering training camp and unprepared for the season. On Monday, Davis agreed:

“I usually get in shape in August. I’ve been doing that for the last six years of my career. This August I started working out and getting ready to go and it got a lot harder. It wasn’t like I wasn’t doing anything but my body wasn’t responding as quickly as it usually does and I think I kind of faced that reality this summer. … Getting in shape was never really a problem for me before but these nagging injuries have taught me a lesson. This summer was a dose of reality that I need to start training differently and earlier.”

That’s pretty crappy of Baron. First off, not only is it poor form to not be prepared entering any season, but why is it that he falls so out of shape in the first place? Isn’t he a professional athlete, not a part-time one? Isn’t it his job to be in good condition? You read stories about Kevin Durant constantly working to improve his game and then you read that Baron Davis wasn’t prepared for training camp and it shows why he’s never maximized his ability. It’s really a shame and what’s even worse is that he’s just stealing $13 million a season with the Clippers.

Rihanna’s Looking for a Baller … Is it Andrew Bynum or Baron Davis?

Given all the off-court issues Andrew Bynum’s had lately, I’m not so sure that dating a celeb is something he should be doing right now. Much less a celeb who’s involved in a shaky breakup from Chris Brown amidst a potential physical assault incident. Regardless, multiple reports say the Lakers’ center was seen getting cozy with singer Rihanna last week. Bynum’s playing it the right way, not divulging any information to the paparazzi. But if Bynum really is getting it on with Rihanna, looks like he might have some competition.

Here’s lesson one in how to twist a story: Rihanna celebrating Baron’s birthday now means the two might have a relationship. According to the NY Daily News, “Rihanna is back in action! The sexy songbird was decked out in ’80s club gear at L.A. hot spot myhouse, where she helped L.A. Clippers star Baron Davis’ celebrate his 30th birthday — and danced, sipped Grey Goose and flirted with Davis and his teammates all night.” So that does say the two were flirting, right? I wonder what Teri Hatcher has to say about that. To use Ben Maller’s line, the good part about Baron for Rihanna is that the Clippers don’t beat anyone. Zing!

Athlete/Celebrity Couples

Did Baron Davis Pork Up on Purpose?

The Baron Davis project with the Clippers has not exactly started off as planned. Baron began feuding with coach Mike Dunleavy about the team’s extensive playbook and regimented style mere weeks into the season. Through 20 games, the team is 4-16 and the prospects are grim. To make matters worse, Davis was the team’s marquee addition in the off-season. Problem is the guy packed on some pounds over the summer for endorsement purposes, we’re told. Yes, the guy became a Jenny Craig spokesperson and had to plump up for the part.

I buy the story because I’ve seen how much weight Baron gained and he’s confirmed the endorsement. But you have to wonder why the guy would willingly put his play on the court in jeopardy by gaining the weight. It shouldn’t be about the money considering he signed a $62.5 million contract. Maybe he’s like Sean Avery and just trying to cross over into the female brand. Maybe becoming a household name amongst the Oprah Winfrey crowd is more important to Baron than gaining the respect of his peers, the fans, and the media. At least the guy is back closer to playing shape these days. Only four more years of this for the Clips!

So Eight Games and Baron Davis Already Isn’t Fitting in with the Clippers

Just to show you how bad the Mavericks are, that’s the only team the Clippers beat this season. The Clips are 1-8 and were pretty much doomed from the start when Elton Brand deserted them in free agency and Maggette bolted for Golden State. Baron Davis was their key offseason acquisition, but he only signed with them to be back in LA where he grew up and to make some money. It’s pretty clear he didn’t consider much else otherwise he wouldn’t have signed with that garbage organization. And he had no idea that leaving the Warriors meant he would have a new coach with a different coaching style. And that as you could imagine has caused some problems. Quoting Baron:

“There’s definitely a disconnect there. I’ve never had so many plays in my entire career. I have to figure out how to fit more into his system, and [Dunleavy] has to figure out how to relax his grip.
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“It’s like every time we come down the floor, everyone is trying to figure out the play, and by the time I get it called out and everyone knows it, there is eight seconds left on the shot clock,” Davis said. “It takes away some of our instincts.”

As far as I see it, Davis has really only had one year where things worked — two years ago with the Warriors when they took out the Mavs in the playoffs. He’s a picky guy who only works in certain systems (the free-wielding kind), and butts heads with his coaches (not named Nelson). With four years left on his contract, I’m just wondering who will be the first to go: Baron Davis, or Mike Dunleavy. It’ll be hard to fire Dunleavy now that he’s GM of the team, too. Hope Baron’s open to an offseason trade.

Clippers Are Real Contenders Now

And when I say they’re contenders, I don’t mean in the sense that they could win a title like the Lakers or Celtics, I mean a contender in the Clipper sense. And the Clipper sense of being a contender means they have a shot at earning a seed as high as fourth possibly, and even reaching the second round of the playoffs. For them, that would be winning a championship. With the news that Baron Davis has reached a verbal agreement to join the Clippers after opting out of the final year of his contract with Golden State, the Clips will have a real team.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Clippers were a legit team. Three years ago, they were easily over .500, and damn near reached the Conference Finals until the freaking monster truck events in Phoenix pushed back Game 6 by like five days, killing the Clips’ momentum. It was essentially the same core group; Brand and Kaman dominated the middle, Mobley hit the outisde shots, Sam Cassell was a stud point guard. Swap out Cassell, enter Baron, assume Brand re-signs? This is a legit team again.

I’ve questioned Baron’s desire before, specifically when it pertained to his performance in the Warriors’ final shot at making it into the playoffs this year. Now that he’s back in LA, he’ll have even more reason to party. Thing is though, the pressure won’t be on; it’s the Clippers — they have no expectations. And even if they do get hyped up, they’re still the Clippers no matter what. In summation, that makes this the optimal situation for Baron Davis. Anything positive he does is a bonus, anything negative that happens — blame it on the Clippers being the Clippers. And honestly, Baron, Gordon, Mobley, Brand, and Kaman on the floor together at the same time? They could do some serious damage. Now the health issue, that’s an entirely different matter.

Baron Davis Out Partying Night Before His Benching?

Much of the talk on sports shows on Tuesday revolved around Don Nelsons’ benching of Baron Davis for the entire second half Monday night. With the Warriors’ loss on Monday, Golden State was eliminated from the playoffs despite sporting a winning percentage just shy of .600. Baron shot 2-13 in the first half — a slump for which you’d think he’d be left in to work out. Not the case. So why exactly was Baron left on the pine the entire second half? Nobody knows. But thanks to Brett Edwards’ research at FanHouse, we might have an idea why. From the Arizona Republic:

Golden State’s Baron Davis was gone. He was benched for the second half by Warriors coach Don Nelson after a 2-for-13 first half and a Sunday night birthday party in the Valley.

“I gave Baron a much-needed rest in the second half,” Nelson said.

Sure enough, checking Baron’s player profile tells us that his birthday was in fact on Sunday — the 13th of April. While nobody outside of the people at Baron’s party and inside the Golden State locker room can ever be certain about the situation, this sure fills in a few holes to the story. I honestly can’t believe that players would be out partying like that the night before games of such momentous importance, but Baron’s never struck me as a player with elevated levels of maturity. I hope this wasn’t the case, at least for the sake of Warriors fans. It would be hard to forgive him if this were the case. Between Baron and Melo, looks like all you have to do to win in the NBA is stay sober.