Anthony Davis brings hope, excitement to basketball in New Orleans

african kings

As Anthony Davis put on that bright blue hat, strolled to the stage, and flashed that wide smile as he shook NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand, it was clear a dream had been realized.

Davis has probably hoped this moment would come to fruition his entire life. All the hard work he put in at the gym had finally paid off. His dreams had come true.

But as Davis was selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft last night by the New Orleans Hornets, his wasn’t the only dream that came true. Securing the best NBA prospect in more than a decade also was a dream come true for the city of New Orleans. The city has had its fair share of nightmarish events this past year, and the hope is, Davis can be the start of a much-needed turnaround of fortune for the city.

theGRIO VIDEO: ‘Fear the Brow’ fever hits NBA

Seven years ago, New Orleans was floundering. Coming off of Hurricane Katrina, and with residents fleeing the city, it seemed that their sports franchises would end up leaving too. Then Drew Brees came to the New Orleans Saints, changed the culture, reinvigorated the city, and brought the first-ever Super Bowl championship in 2009. During that time, the Hornets had one of the best young stars in Chris Paul, and New Orleans’ sports were flourishing.

But this past year, everything that could have went wrong, essentially did. In basketball, their young star demanded a trade. After securing what they thought was a trade that would help them rebuild, the league intervened, causing all sorts of negative headlines and whispers of conspiracy. All the while, the league, which owned the Hornets, was vigorously looking for a new owner to buy a team that no one seemed to want.

The beloved Saints made headlines for all the wrong reasons too. All of the feel-good stories the Saints invoked evaporated almost overnight with the “bounty-gate” controversy. Brees, who is largely responsible for reviving New Orleans sports, may never suit up in a Saints uniform again, as he is still without a contract, with the deadline for signing one looming closer each day.

It may sound simple to say, but what the Hornets really needed was some luck. When they won the No. 1 pick, and the opportunity to draft a once-in-a-lifetime player in Davis, it seemed like their luck had finally begun to turn.

theGRIO SLIDESHOW: A look at the top 2012 draft picks

There’s talent throughout this year’s draft class, but Davis is the only one that can be described as “can’t miss.” If he enters the NBA now and doesn’t improve at all, he can still have a Tyson Chandler-like career as a defensive anchor for a championship team.  And if he does improve? He has a chance to be legendary.

His name is mentioned with all-time greats like Bill Russell. Some have said he’s a hybrid between Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. He’s got an NBA-ready defensive game, mixed with an offensive game that’s just oozing with potential. Having been 6-foot-3 inches just two years ago, he’s got the basketball IQ of a point guard, in a center’s body.

As much of a star as Davis promises to be on the court, his personality off the court will also serve New Orleans so well. He’s been known as the best basketball player in the class of 2012 for a full year now. But you’d never know by asking him, as he’s humble to a fault. He’s not worried about his brand, his post-game outfit, or showing up in the gossip pages.  Davis just wants to play ball.

He’s young, and innocent, and quirky, and goofy. Really, he’s everything you want from a future phenom. He wants to play basketball and have fun. The last player to be this good, with that type of persona, was Kevin Durant. His career has turned out pretty well so far.

Davis is a perfect fit for New Orleans. A hard-working, humble kid, for a blue-collar, proud town. Davis’ impact on and off the court has the potential to put New Orleans back on the sporting map, a position they had not too long ago.

Be happy for Davis. He’s put in a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, and he deserves for his ultimate dream to be realized.

But also be happy for the city of New Orleans. They needed this too. With a potential franchise player in Davis, the excitement that The Big Easy used to be known for may finally be on its way back.