this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; Daniel Poneman has seen enough. The young man credited with discovering New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis took in Game 2 of the Pelicans' first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and realized there's no need to fly to New ...
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|04-23-2015, 01:31 PM||#1|
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Location: New Orleans, LA
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To Man Who Discovered Anthony Davis, Pelicans' Playoff Run Is Stuff of Dreams
Daniel Poneman has seen enough. The young man credited with discovering New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis took in Game 2 of the Pelicans' first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and realized there's no need to fly to New Orleans for Game 3 or 4 or any other part of the series.
The Pelicans' 97-87 loss was the first time he had seen Davis play live—unless you count pickup games in Davis' native Chicago—since he sat in the Big Easy's Superdome and watched Davis win the 2012 NCAA championship with Kentucky. That meant it was his first and only time seeing Davis live in an NBA uniform.
As he walked out of Oracle Arena, though, his ears still ringing from hearing Warriors' fans shout nasty comments about Davis, the thought occurred to him: My work here is done.
Poneman, by no means, believes he was anything more than a teenage messenger with a video camera and a website dedicated to identifying talent in and around Chicago's high school basketball hotbed who happened to see Davis in his first AAU game since grade school. The video Poneman posted after that game containing highlights of Davis draining jumpers, blocking shots and flushing dunks is considered the springboard that led to Davis going from an unknown talent with no scholarship offers to the apple of the Wildcats' and every other major program's eye.
His epiphany is that he understands Davis is in full flight now and rather than define himself by his friendship with someone chasing his dreams, he wants to chase his own. Instead of being in New Orleans, he'll be in Santa Barbara, California, watching Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky and other predraft hopefuls working out. The same Kaminsky he made the wise choice of getting to know as a seldom-used, lightly regarded freshman for the Badgers.
In the grand scheme, Poneman has visions of making films and is working on a documentary about a high school basketball team in Chicago whose star player came back to help the school reach the state finals nine days after being shot and thinking he'd never play again.
"I'll always be Ant's No. 1 fan," he said. "It's just time for me to do whatever I'm supposed to do."
Poneman arranged to be in Chicago's United Center for Davis' first two visits as a pro to play the Bulls, but injury prevented Davis from playing either time. While Anthony and the rest of his family remain grateful for Poneman's role in his emergence, Poneman has tried to keep a respectful distance, rarely texting him during the season and happy to catch up with him back in Chicago during the offseason.
He actually hadn't planned on going to Game 2; he happened to be visiting his mother, who lives in the Bay Area, when he realized Davis and the Pelicans were in town. Even then, he didn't ask Davis for a ticket; a contact arranged a complimentary ticket in the upper level.
Poneman never had been in Oracle Arena before, but he had a sense of deja vu as he watched Davis put up 26 points, 11 rebounds and swat a couple of shots in only his second playoff game ever.
"It honestly feels like we're still in the Merrillville Fieldhouse playing AAU," he texted during the game, referring to the Indiana gym where he first met Davis. "He's playing the same game. Nothing has changed, the arena is just bigger and he's doing it against better players. Like, literally, watch the film from the first day I found him, he's scoring in the same ways, doing the same things."
Poneman couldn't help but find some humor in those paying hundreds of dollars to sit in a packed Oracle Arena when they could've caught Davis' prodigious skills four years ago in a half-empty high school gym for free. Poneman's price to sit in Oracle? Having Warriors fans on every side of him loudly ripping Davis. He heard everything from "They called the foul because he's ugly!" to "You still have a unibrow!" to "Shut up, Davis!"
He limited his cheering to a small fist pump when Davis swatted an Andrew Bogut shot out of bounds.
Watching Davis play now is not what Poneman enjoys the most. Not when he can hang with Davis' family after the game and catch up on old times. Not when Davis has his room key delivered to him in the locker room and arranges to slip out without seeing anyone until his mother texts her son to let him know Poneman is there to see him.
Poneman actually can say he's played with and against Davis. A group of college players and Davis were playing a pickup game at the University of Chicago after his rookie year and Poneman, a promising 5'9" combo guard as a high school freshman who forfeited continuing to play to build his scouting service—"I was so into my website I wanted to scout every day instead of going to practice," Poneman said—was invited to join them.
After a couple of games as Davis' teammate, he found himself on the other side and at one point the last man on defense with Davis barreling down on him on a breakaway. "I hugged him and kept him from dunking on me," Poneman said. "Just being able to do that, my whole team came over and congratulated me."
Davis isn't the first example Poneman has of a relative unknown soaring to fame. His uncle, Jonathan Poneman, helped start an independent record label, Sub Pop, that produced Nirvana's first album and remains a top independent label with such acts as Father John Misty and Beach House.
While his goals and ambitions do not revolve around the attention he has received for finding Davis, he can envision watching him play again. This time from a courtside seat as Davis plays in the Finals.
He didn't say it, but he didn't have to: the kind of seat often inhabited by those who have made it big in the film industry. It wouldn't be any wiser to bet against him than it would be to bet against his friend and fellow Chicago native, the big Pelican known as Ant.
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.
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