A generation-defining talent of his own, Anthony Davis has already achieved a significant amount since entering the league in 2012. He’s a six-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA First Team member, three-time NBA All-Defensive team honoree and an Olympic gold medalist.
Davis has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in six straight seasons–– averaging 28 points or more twice in that span—and has led the league in blocked shots three times. Davis has only played in 13 postseason games, but his playoff numbers are hard to ignore: 30.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
And now, for the first time in his career as a solo star, Davis will grace the cover of NBA 2K20, the latest edition of the game that has defined basketball culture for over two decades.
“It means the world to me,” Davis told The Crossover of the honor. “As a kid, you always dream of being on the cover of 2K, having your own shoe and things like that. It’s a dream come true.”
But Davis isn’t ready to stop dreaming. Despite his individual successes, Davis has just one postseason series win under his belt over the last seven years. His 2018 season was overshadowed with questions around his future, placing him at the center of a whirlwind that finally ended on Saturday, when the Pelicans agreed to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft.
And while he couldn’t address the trade directly due league rules (the deal won’t go final until at least July 6), Davis made it clear that he’s got more to prove. That there are parts of his legacy that have yet to be written.
That in some ways, Davis’s story is only now just beginning.
“This is a new chapter in my career,” Davis said. “Now it’s time to turn the page and keep making the book even better.”
The Crossover spoke with Davis about what that new chapter looks like, the current and future states of the NBA, his NBA2K20 cover—which will be available worldwide on Sept. 6—and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
AA: This year’s NBA 2K tagline is “Welcome to the next.” How does that message speak to you, personally and professionally?
AD: Just in life, being the next whatever. And it doesn’t just pertain to sports. Especially for the kids, not everybody is going to end up playing sports, so being the next lawyer or teacher or whatever it is. And in professional sports, for me, being the next MVP, being the next champion, those are things I want to do next. I think it applies multiple ways, and it’s a great message.
AA: Zion Williamson is also featured in the 2K20 trailer. What are your thoughts on Zion, and how do you think his addition to the NBA will impact the league?
AD: He’s really athletic, a freakish athlete. He’s got a lot of hype around him, and I’m excited to see how he does in the Summer League and how he performs in the NBA. I don’t know him personally, but to get to this point, everybody works hard. Nobody is here by mistake. I’m excited to see him and what he’s able to do.
AA: Do you feel that expectations for you as you start this new chapter in your career are higher than ever before?
AD: My expectations are the same for me, and that’s to win. I’ll leave it up to the media and the bloggers and everybody else to create their own expectations, whatever they may be. But my expectation is to win every time I step on the floor. I want to come out on top and be the last team standing. And I know it’s hard work.
AA: How do you think winning plays a part in defining your career, if it does?
AD: Winning definitely helps define your career and define greatness. I don’t think you need to win to be great—you have a lot of greats that have never won like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone—but it definitely helps solidify a spot for you in the world of greatness.
AA: How did your agent Rich Paul helped you navigate a difficult year?
AD: We didn’t really worry about it. We just focused on playing basketball. I think he does a great job of letting the players just do what they’re supposed to do, and he just handles the rest. That’s why we have agents to take care of that stuff, to let players focus and be the best players they can be, and he definitely helped me out with that, especially this season with a lot going on, a lot of ups and downs. He was there for me and always in my ear about just focusing on basketball.
AA: How has the NBA landscape changed with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson’s injuries?
AD: It’s tough. You got the best scorer to ever play the game of basketball with a ruptured Achilles and one of the best shooters to ever shoot the basketball out with an ACL. They definitely have had a huge impact on our game, and I think it’ll be tough to not see them play next year, but they’ll be back healthier and better, and I can’t wait for those guys to get back on the floor, because the game needs them for sure.
AA: Where do you think you rank among players in today’s NBA, and why?
AD: I’m the best in the world. I think I do a lot of things that a lot of players can’t do as far as playing a complete game. I can play on the block, play on the perimeter, play defense on both ends, switch 1-5, guard, score the basketball. I want to be the most dominant player in the game, and I’m going to continue to do that. Obviously you have players like Kawhi, KD, LeBron, Steph all of those guys who are the same way. They’re great players, talented players, Hall of Famers, and that’s what makes our game fun. Everyone wants to be the best in the league. Everyone wants to be the most dominant, and that’s when our competitive edge comes out on the floor and makes the game so fun to watch.
AA: When it’s all said and done, what do you want to achieve hope your legacy in this league is?
AD: I want to be a champion. I want to be a guy who works hard and loves to play the game of basketball, a guy that loves being in the community and helping the kids out, giving back. Those are the most important thing for me as far as legacy, and that’s what I want my legacy to be.