Baron Walter Louis Davis (born April 13, 1979) is an American professional basketball player who was a two-time NBA All-Star. He was drafted with the third overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He also played in the NBA for the New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks. Davis played college basketball for UCLA, where he was an All-American honoree before turning professional after his sophomore year. He was a star high school player while at Crossroads School. Davis last played for the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League.
Davis was the third pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets. In his NBA debut, a 100–86 win over the Orlando Magic, Davis scored nine points, and added five rebounds, two assists and two steals. In Davis’ first year, he backed up Eddie Jones and David Wesley, as the Hornets lost in the first round of the playoffs to the 76ers in four games.
Davis saw better success the following year, as his averages in points, assists, steals and minutes per game all increased and he started all 82 games for the Hornets. Davis lead the Hornets back into the playoffs, and swept the Miami Heat before being defeated by the Ray Allen-led Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the second round. Davis is credited with making the longest shot in NBA history at the Bradley Center on February 17, 2001, when he buried an 89-foot shot with 0.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks.
On February 24, 2005, Davis was traded from the Hornets to the Golden State Warriors for guard Speedy Claxton and veteran forward Dale Davis after tension with the Hornets’ coaching staff and several nagging injuries. The move created one of the more potent backcourts in the NBA with Davis and star guard Jason Richardson. It also saw Davis’ return to California, where he had craved to return since his college days at UCLA.
After two seasons in which the Warriors underachieved under coach Mike Montgomery, the Warriors hired former coach Don Nelson for the 2006–07 season. His high-scoring offensive system was designed to fit Davis’s up-tempo style. Although Davis suffered through knee soreness and underwent surgery during the season, he still led the Warriors to their first playoff appearance since 1994. The Warriors swept the regular season series against the Mavericks 3–0, giving them an advantage and won the series against the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks 4–2, making them the 1st No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed since the NBA changed the 1st round from a 5-game series to a 7-game series. It was numerically the largest upset in the history of the NBA playoffs, with the 67–15 Mavericks’ regular-season win-loss record 25 games better than the 42–40 Warriors’. Davis averaged 25 points per game in the series.
Steve Kerr, then television analyst, called Davis’ performance in the 2007 NBA Playoffs “outrageous…stunningly athletic and creative and explosive.” Davis’ playoff highlights included numerous acrobatic layups, a buzzer-beating half-court three-pointer, and a memorable dunk over Andrei Kirilenko. The Utah Jazz eliminated the undersized Warriors 4 games to 1. Davis averaged 25.3 points, 6.5 assists, 2.9 steals, and 4.5 rebounds per game in the 2007 Playoffs.
On July 1, 2008, Davis verbally agreed to a 5-year, $65 million deal to play for his hometown-team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and officially signed with the Clippers on July 10, 2008. Davis initially decided to join the Clippers with the intent of playing with Elton Brand, but Brand shockingly opted out of his contract to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. After officially signing with the Clippers, Davis said that Brand’s departure had no impact on his decision to come to Los Angeles.
On February 24, 2011, Davis was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers along with a first round pick (which turned out to be the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, Kyrie Irving), in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. This trade to Cleveland marked a reunion between Davis and former coach Byron Scott, to which Davis was quoted as saying “I know we’re together for a reason. There’s some things my game can benefit from just playing in his system”. Davis chose to wear no. 85 to honor his grandparents who raised him in Los Angeles and whose house was on 85th Street. In his debut with the Cavs, Baron scored 18 points, grabbed 4 rebounds got 5 assists, and made four three-point shots, in a win over the New York Knicks.
Despite joining a Cavaliers team who at the time of the trade had the worst record in the NBA (which included a record-setting 26-game losing streak), Davis helped the Cavaliers close the season with several victories, including a 102–90 upset victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat, to ensure that Cleveland did not have the worst record in the league at the season’s end.
On December 19, 2011, Davis signed a one-year contract with the New York Knicks, choosing New York over the Lakers and Heat who also expressed interest in signing Davis. At the time of the signing, Davis had a herniated disk in his back. He did not make his debut for the Knicks until February 20, 2012, coming off the bench to score a three-pointer along with an assist.
Davis became an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012, but he was expected to be out until May 2013 while recovering from his surgery. He made a return to the basketball court in July 2015, scoring 44 points in the Drew League (which was the subject of his documentary “The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce”), and subsequently announced his interest in returning to the NBA. On January 15, 2016, he signed a contract to play in the NBA Development League, and on March 2, he was acquired by the Delaware 87ers. Two days later, he made his D-League debut in a 114–106 loss to the Iowa Energy, recording eight points, one rebound, four assists and three steals in 19 minutes off the bench. In six games for Delaware to conclude the 2015–16 season, Davis averaged 12.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Career highlights and awards
2× NBA All-Star (2002, 2004)
All-NBA Third Team (2004)
2× NBA steals leader (2004, 2007)
NBA Skills Challenge champion (2004)
Third-team All-American – AP (1999)
First-team All-Pac-10 (1999)
Gatorade Player of the Year (1997)
McDonald’s All-American (1997)
California Mr. Basketball (1997)
Representing USA Goodwill Games
Gold medal – first place 2001 Brisbane National team