Like everybody has been saying all along, Antonio Davis really is a professional.
The 37-year-old centre decided yesterday to say yes to more than $6 million US for 34 games -- perhaps the tail end of his NBA career -- by showing up in Toronto for his second go-around with the Raptors, four days after he was traded here by the New York Knicks.
With a large crew of reporters on hand, the well-spoken president of the NBA players' association said all the right things and thanked all the right people after practice. As Davis said, "It's not that bad. Things could be worse."
Amen to that.
"That (not showing up) wasn't a question," Davis said. "They have my contract, I'm here to play basketball. It wasn't a matter of reporting. It was just a matter of clearing my head to make sure I could come here and do the job they need me to do."
Job No. 1, Davis said, is to "protect" Chris Bosh. That's not a bad idea for a team that has lacked any real big bodies to help out their star forward.
Of course, the Davis of today isn't the Davis of 2000-01 in Toronto when he averaged a career-best 10.1 rebounds and 13.7 points before signing a five-year, $64-million deal with these same Raptors.
But coach Sam Mitchell wouldn't discount the possibility of starting Davis, who averaged five points and 4.8 rebounds with the Knicks this season. It's not like the Raptors have Shaquille O'Neal on their bench.
"We haven't had many luxuries around here since I've been here," Mitchell said. "Starting to get some is a nice feeling."
Davis, who went out of his way to praise interim general manager Wayne Embry and his close friend Mitchell, in part for giving him extra time to prepare for the move, will understand if fans aren't cheering him loudly tonight when the Raptors play host to the San Antonio Spurs. It only was three years ago when Davis made his displeasure with the organization known and was eventually shipped to his home-town Chicago Bulls.
"Even if I were to have left on a good note, there are still going to be people who don't like you and don't like what you stand for. I can't really worry about that. Any reaction they give is the reaction they feel and they have the right to give and it's one I have to accept."
Bosh, for one, hopes the boobirds stay home.
"No matter what happened in the past, he's a Raptor now," Bosh said. "He's here to help us win and I don't think people should forget that."
Davis refused to discuss his family situation. His infamous wife, Kendra, and twins Antonio Jr. and Kaela will stay in Chicago.
Davis, meanwhile, has just one goal.
"If these are the last (34) games I'll ever play in the NBA, I want them to be played as tough as I can and go out and give everything I have," he said. "I hope I'll be able to do that for this team. I hope it will be good enough for them and good enough for everybody in Toronto."