What does it mean to be a Laker? I first asked this question to Magic Johnson and he stated, “The mindset is to win and do anything it would take to win, to dominate on the court and so I think you have to understand that L.A. is a beautiful city where a lot of beautiful people live. Hollywood is sitting right there and you can’t go too close to all of that stuff because if you do it’s going to take away from you winning on the basketball court. So you have to be disciplined to play in Los Angeles and you have to remember with the Lakers organization it’s all about winning championships.”
Anthony Davis is learning first-hand what it means to don the purple and gold. The All-Star, with the help of LeBron James, has the franchise eyeing its first championship since 2010. Davis has become a star off the court locking up a bunch of endorsements and commercial spots. He recently landed a key part in Foot Locker’s ‘Weak of Greatness campaign’. He spoke to The Crossover about playing for the Lakers, building his brand, Space Jam 2 and more.
Jarrel Harris: You have built a solid relationship with Foot Locker over the years. You have been in various commercials like blocking that kid and running into the car. You had that one with James Harden going in disguise as you. How has it been working with the brand over the years?
Anthony Davis: It has been great. I have always done some fun spots with them. I think the one with James was pretty funny. I had to put on a fake beard to look like him. The one with the little kid was one of my first national commercials, so that was a fun spot. It's been nothing but fun working with them over the past few years.
JH: I read your Haute Living cover story—saw you with a Tom Ford suit with your feet out— seems like you are enjoying life. I know you have lived in LA during the summers but how has the transition been like full time?
AD: It has been great. It has been pretty smooth for me. I haven’t had any hiccups so far but living out here during the summers kind of made the transition a lot easier for me.
JH: What does the Lakers brand mean to you? Have you had any moments this season where it hit you like man this is special?
AD: That is crazy that you asked that because I was at the arena yesterday and during the game, during one of the timeouts it happened and I was just looking around and I have always been playing so I never really had a chance to really take it all in. So the timeout was going on and I am looking around the arena and the Staples Center, I am looking at the banners and everything and I told one of my teammates, Quinn Cook, I tapped him during the huddle while coach was talking and I said ‘Man this is crazy, it just hit me that I am a Laker.” He was like for real? I was like yeah it just hit me that I am a Laker. So that happened last night [laughs].
JH: When did you first realize you can make money for being yourself—not just by your talent on the court? How do you plan on maximizing your brand to make it more global?
AD: I mean, obviously, I have a unique trait with the unibrow and you have to embrace yourself. You can't worry about what everybody else is doing. Luckily, I have a great team around me to put me in great positions to be evolved in endorsements that represent me. I try not to do anything that doesn't represent me, or I am not comfortable with. And I think that's how you build your own brand and not try to follow up on somebody else and do something uncomfortable. So, all the more stuff I do, I allow myself to be out there to the public, the more global I can get. I try to stay in my own lane and do what I think is best for me, my brand and my family.
JH: LeBron is one of the biggest brands in sports. You have played with him for only a short amount of time but what are some things you have learned while spending time with him? Is there any advice he has given you on how handle to off the court stuff?
AD: He's very professional and another thing that I learned from him is that he just doesn't just do anything. He does what is best for him, he does what is comfortable for him. Sometimes it's not just about the money. if loves it he will do it, if he doesn't he won't. So that's some stuff I have kind of picked up as well. I remember when I first started, I was kind of just trying to do everything just to put my name out there. It was some stuff that I got into and I was like I really didn't like that. I should have never done that. So now it is just about does this really suit me Is this best for me? Am I comfortable with this? So those are the things you have to think about now. and I think I've got a pretty good job with that.
JH: You spent the summer on the set of Space Jam 2—How was that experience and do you see yourself pursuing more movie roles since you are out in LA full time now?
AD: It was fun. It was a great, great experience. Space Jam is one of my favorite basketball movies of all time. So to be able to play a role in Space Jam 2 with some good friends of mine, it was a fun experience and I can't wait for it to come out. For that next question, I am not sure. Right now, I am focused on trying to do something special with the Lakers. But if I have a personal connection to another movie or TV show that I can get into and have time for then I will look into and maybe take that opportunity. But I am not going to be doing a lot of movies just to do it.
JH: Chicago has molded some of the biggest basketball brands in the world. MJ obviously played there. D-Wade and D. Rose have dipped into the business world. How did they influence you growing up?
AD: You know D-Wade has his Way of Wade sneaker collection and has got into a lot of businesses. D. Rose has had a couple stuff going on in Chicago when he was still there, but you know everyone has their own ways of doing things. Obviously, those are guys that I looked up to from a basketball standpoint and both of those guys are legends in Chicago forever. Anytime you see the ones before you do great things on and off the floor you get to see the bits and pieces that you can take from those guys and also how you can do it in your own way as well. So all the ones before me like D. Rose, Isiah Thomas, D-Wade and others, I just always checked to see how they moved and how they did things a certain way especially with us all being from Chicago and coming from the same background and for me trying to figure out how I could go down the same path.
JH: You are still under contract with Nike—is getting an on court signature sneaker a goal of yours?
AD: As a kid you always want your own sneaker. You go on “NBA 2K” and create your own shoe and do all those things. So honestly it is a goal of mine, but I know it’s not given. It has to be earned and if Nike comes to me and wants to give me a signature shoe, I would be more than happy, and it will be a dream come true. I just have to keep working and hopefully that time comes.
JH: If you guys win the NBA Championship this season—how special would that be to join the ranks of guys like Magic, Kareem, Shaq and Kobe who have won here?
AD: Oh man, It would be super special. The Lakers are an historic franchise with 16 championships and to be in the conversation on that list of legends who won there it will be special for me, my family and the entire organization for all the players on the team that came together to sacrifice to be a part of something special. Obviously, it is a long way from now and we still have work to do and we know what our goal is and we are excited to even be in the conversation for an opportunity to win a championship.