Any athlete who might equate a spot on the bench with a career death sentence needed to look a couple of rows into the stands at a recent Kansas University women’s basketball game to be reminded otherwise.
There sat former NBA All-Star Antonio Davis, doing the same thing his daughter was doing, watching the Kansas women lose another heartbreaker, this one to Iowa State. Annette Davis, a 6-foot-1 freshman from Houston, didn’t get into the game. Her father, who played 13 seasons in the NBA and retired in 2006, can relate. He played sparingly during his freshman season at UTEP.
“It’s difficult, but at the end of the day it makes you a better person, a stronger person,” Antonio Davis said, repeating a message he has shared with his daughter.
Instead of pouting, he used it as motivation to improve his body and his game, just as his daughter has been doing since arriving at Kansas. Smart move on his part. He earned $86.815 million, according to basketball-reference.com, from the Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
When he counts his blessings, he doesn’t forget to include the one about having played for an NBA legend.
“Larry Bird’s a great man,” Davis said. “He taught me how to play the game of basketball. I was very fortunate to have him as my coach my first year. He taught me that professionalism, how to do certain things the right way.”
Davis passes on the lessons he learned to his daughter, but only when she asks.
“I try to help as much as I can,” he said. “I try to encourage. I try to teach, but I don’t force it as much as maybe I should.”
Annette has played in 12 of the team’s 27 games and averages 0.8 points and 1.2 rebounds.
The advice Davis gives his daughter is similar to the words sent from coaches to freshmen at all levels.
“I tell her to slow down a little bit,” he said. “You get in, and you want to show everybody you can do everything, but you can’t do it all at once, and you can’t do it with a couple of minutes. She just needs to relax and let things come to her a little bit. I tell her everybody goes through it, so don’t worry about it.”
Annette’s teammate, senior Porscha Weddington, also is the daughter of a former professional athlete. Mike Weddington played for the Green Bay Packers.
“We talk about it, but we don’t talk about it,” Annette said. “To us, they’re our dads before they’re professional athletes.”
A pair of receivers on the football team also are the children of former pros. Rod Harris Jr.’s father was a return man for the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Erick McGriff’s father, Fred, hit 493 home runs in the big leagues.
Tom Brunansky, father of KU outfielder Jason Brunansky, hit 271 home runs in the bigs. Jayhawks hard-throwing relief pitcher Brett Bochy is the son of Bruce Bochy, who enters his fourth season as manager of the San Francisco Giants after serving 12 seasons in the same role with the San Diego Padres. Bruce was behind the dish for the Pods when Pete Rose slapped his record-breaking 4,192nd career hit off Eric Show.