NEW YORK — Now that Baron Davis — otherwise known as Spike Lee’s cousin — is a member of the Knicks, he intends to support the Big Apple’s main college team, too.
Davis played for St. John’s coach Steve Lavin at UCLA and even though he once directed a famous shot in Lav’s direction, Davis now pledges his complete support to his former coach’s current team.
“I was up there about two weeks ago talking to the team and just hanging out so I’ll be up at St. John’s all the time,” Davis, who is sidelined with herniated discs in his back, told SNY.tv exclusively Wednesday before the exhibition game against the Nets. “You can bet on that.”
Davis is best friends with St. John’s assistant Rico Hines, who worked with the Golden State Warriors before joining Lavin’s St. John’s staff.
Davis also informally helped Lavin recruit St. Anthony point guard Kyle Anderson, who ended up choosing UCLA over the Johnnies and several other schools.
“It made a big impact,” Anderson told BruinsNation.com, referring to Davis’ efforts. “It shows [Lavin] gets guys NBA ready. Baron talked about Coach Lav, how he helped him get to where he is today.”
The Johnnies, who beat Texas Pan-American 66-61 Wednesday night, just added 6-7 wing Amir Garrett but still have only seven scholarship players after point guard Nurideen Lindsey announced his transfer.
Lavin told SNY.tv he intends to sign five players in the Class of 2012 during the spring, and Davis believes Lavin will get it done.
“I mean you’re at St. John’s, you’re going to do well,” Davis said. “You can’t recruit against Lav. Lav is special. He’s the type of coach you want to play for.”
Those comments are 180 degrees removed from the comment Davis reportedly once made about Lavin while he was with the Warriors at Pauley Pavilion.
“We should have a banner up there: the only team to make the tournament without a coach,” Davis reportedly said.
Still, asked Wednesday about his time with Lavin, Davis said, “Had a great time, learned a lot.”
Davis seems genuinely supportive of Lavin, who is recovering from prostate cancer surgery and has been out on the road recruiting while Mike Dunlap coaches the team.
“For somebody who has cancer and when you’re around him, his spirit and his energy is even better than it was before,” Davis said. “I think he’s a guy who always loves to prove people wrong. He’s a fighter. And I think that in the situation that they’re in right now, they’re only going to get better.
“They have some young talented guys that could be really special. And he’s an incredible recruiter. And I think it’s a matter of him first dealing with his issues and then let basketball be his healing.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.