When Anthony Davis was getting set up for his walk-off interview with Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell after exploding for 32 points to lead his team to a 126-123 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets, he could barely catch his breath. Head clearly spinning, Davis had to lean down just to hear Trudell’s first question, an exertion that led him to quickly turn away to stifle a cough.
The seven-footer’s obvious struggle to simply catch his breath and focus led Trudell to ask him maybe the simplest query he’s ever thrown at a player in his years of doing postgame interviews.
“You good?” Trudell asked Davis.
Davis shook his head and smiled.
“No,” he replied.
But like he did on a night he was clearly determined to give the Lakers everything he had, to not allow them to lose, Davis soldiered on, saying that while his sprained thumb feels better, he had a hard time fighting through the nasty stomach bug he’s currently dealing with, an ailment that sidelined him against the Portland Trail Blazers when he couldn’t stop throwing up and had no energy (don’t worry, he’s tested negative for COVID-19).
Davis felt a little better on Monday night, but only just so. He said he’s been constantly drinking fluids and trying to stomach as much food as he can, and he still had to leave the Lakers’ game on Monday night to throw up during the third quarter. But he shook it off, kept drinking Gatorade and took some chewables for energy from the team’s training staff, and was able to play the rest of the game and overtime period, scoring key buckets and helping the Lakers get some sorely needed stops to finish the victory with the aforementioned 32 points on 13-25 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks and 3 steals.
After all of it, Davis didn’t even know how long he played, having to be reminded by a Lakers staffer that he was on the floor for 43 of the 53 minutes the team played. But he knew his team couldn’t have won without him, and he’s determined to make sure he’s there for them.
“Put in 43 minutes of work and I got 48 hours to replenish. So hopefully I feel better the next couple days, and if not, we’ll do it again,” Davis said.
32 points (13-25 FG), 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks, 3 steals pic.twitter.com/K1DsfJT5rQ— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) November 9, 2021
With Russell Westbrook struggling and every other Laker on a non-minimum contract sidelined, the team needed everything Davis could give them, and on a night that flew directly in the face of the narratives about him, he delivered. His play was a visual rebuttal of the idea that he’s soft. That he doesn’t play through pain or discomfort. The “Anthony Day-to-Davis” cracks. His teammates say those narratives couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I’m around him and I know what type of player he is. What type of person he is. And there’s a lot on him,” said Carmelo Anthony. “I didn’t know he threw up, but for him to do that and still come back and help us win this game and get this victory, that just says a lot about him.
“I think a lot of times we find a narrative and try to stick to it with athletes, but I know he’s not soft. I know he’s tough,” Anthony continued. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel — whose voice was raspy with a cold as well, saying pregame that he feels like “crap” — was just grateful that his superstar still had something left to give him and the rest of the Lakers, given all Davis is going through.
“He’s dealing with a lot of stuff right now. His thumb, and obviously being really sick,” Vogel said. “He’s toughing it out, and we don’t win this game tonight without him having that mindset that he’s going to push through his health adversity that he’s facing. He was terrific.”
The Lakers will need Davis to continue being so if they’re going to have a chance for as long as LeBron remains out with an injury and Westbrook continues to struggle. It’s not fair, but as Davis said after the game, life isn’t necessarily fair — although his seemingly exhaustion-inspired delirium and disbelief at what he just did inspired him to put it a little differently
“It is what it is,” Davis said. “That’s life, bayyybeee.”
And with that, Davis slowly got up from the table where he gave his postgame press conference, looking determined to go find the nearest bed. After all, he only has two days before he has to do this all over again.