For Some Draft Hopefuls, the NBA's Family Tradition
The rugged Terry Davis played 10 NBA seasons between 1989 and 2001 after being undrafted. He was waived three times during his career, needing always to work hard to get back in the league.
His son is in line to be a lottery pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. After playing two years at North Carolina, including winning a national championship, expectations are high for Ed Davis.
"I'm more skilled than him,'' the 6-foot-10 forward said of his father.
No, the son isn't taking a jab. Not only is he right, he merely was pointing out his father, also 6-9, was a maximum-effort guy who overachieved.
"He was more of a banger and bruiser,'' said the much slender son. "A real physical guy.''
While Ed Davis is a lock to be selected Thursday in New York, three other sons of former NBA players also are hoping to hear their names called. All, though, are long shots.
Anthony Mason Jr., a forward from St. John's, is the son of Anthony Mason, who played with New York in the 1994 NBA Finals and for Miami in the 2001 All-Star Game. Ryan Wittman, a forward from Cornell, has former NBA sharpshooter and head coach Randy Wittman as a father. And Andy Rautins, a guard from Syracuse, is the son of Leo Rautins, who was the 17th pick in the 1983 draft but, bogged down by knee problems, lasted just two NBA seasons.
Randy Wittman (right), an NBA guard from 1983-92, and Leo Rautins, a forward from 1983-85, can compare notes about advice to their kids, who are both fine shooters but have had their athleticism questioned. The dads were Atlanta teammates in 1984-85.
If Ed Davis thinks his father was a banger, he might want to check out some old clips of Mason Sr., who really threw bodies around in 13 NBA seasons from 1989-2003. His heyday in physicality was with the Knicks from 1991-96.
"I watch some of the classic games that the Knicks played (on television), and he was a real tough character, a big strong guy,'' said Mason Jr., 24, who has more memories of his dad's playing days after New York. "The game was a lot different between the NBA back and then and the NBA now. A lot more physical.''
Mason Jr. never will be confused with his father, who was listed at 6-8, 260 pounds. He's 6-7, 210 pounds and mostly hangs out on the perimeter.
But that doesn't mean the dad isn't offering plenty of advice as his son goes through workouts in preparation for the draft. Mason Jr. led St. John's in scoring with a 14.0 average in 2007-08, but struggled due to injures his last two seasons, including 2008-09, when he redshirted due to a foot injury in what would have been his senior year.
"He tells me just to stay focused and things that they're looking for in workouts,'' Mason Jr. said. "He says they're looking for small things, not just scoring a lot. But they want you to go hard and give the effort.''
That never was a problem for Mason Sr. He made the NBA despite being a third-round pick in 1988, the last year the draft had a third round.
Terry Davis also is good at dispensing advice when it comes to working hard. He played with some very bad teams during his NBA career, including when Dallas won just 24 games in two seasons from 1992-94, but always was known as an overachiever.
"It's just a man's game now,'' Ed Davis said of what advice his father has given him as he prepares to enter the NBA. "It's all business and it's not college. It's serious, everything's serious, not really too much joking. So that's just his main thing. ... I just want to uphold my family's tradition because my dad played in the league and everybody respected how hard he worked.''
Ed Davis no doubt hopes he will be respected for his work ethnic. And for his skills.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson