Ricky Davis nearly hung up his basketball shoes. He owns a 17-acre spread in Texas and could look back on an NBA career that earned him millions.
Even after he was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010 — ending a 12-year NBA career — he ultimately wasn’t able to retire.
Davis, who played with the Iowa Hawkeyes and Davenport North, joined professional clubs in Turkey, China and France. He now finds himself playing for the NBA Development League’s Erie BayHawks, who face the Iowa Energy at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.
His heart has kept him pursuing a dream to play in the NBA once more — even if it’s just a couple of 10-day contracts — while taking a long, humbling route.
That pride pushed the 34-year-old to work out in AIB College of Business Activities Center on Friday. It seems a long way from Staples Center in Los Angeles or Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“This is definitely not a payday here,” Davis said.
Davis once threw down dunks at Veterans Memorial Auditorium when he played for Davenport North at the state boys’ basketball tournament in 1995 and 1996. The former arena where he played is located across a few feet from tonight’s venue. Eighteen years after playing in the state tournament, Davis will make his homecoming downtown.
He spent a year at Iowa, then went pro and was drafted in the first round by Charlotte, his first of seven NBA franchises. He was still a teenager.
Davis averaged 13.5 points a game, including a career-high 20.6 with Cleveland in 2002-03. He earned more than $42 million during his NBA career, according to basketball-reference.com.
Davis drew attention for his flashy moves on the court — he was a two-time NBA slam dunk contest performer — but also for controversy at times. He was fined for trying to pad his statistics and reach a triple double by intentionally missing a shot to grab a rebound.
Injuries slowed him, and at times he had a reputation for not being a team player.
His career includes four countries and more than a dozen teams. He also has had six surgeries: three on his knees, three on his feet.
The recovery following Davis’ last knee injury rejuvenated his body and his hopes of returning to the NBA.
“It’s what’s inside that keeps me wanting to be on the court,” Davis said. “I’m blessed to be able to play this game. It’s just a thing that keeps ticking in me.”
His latest hoop dream is to play a few more years. Then he’ll retire as a player.
“Now I’m the old man,” Davis said. “In my mind, I still feel like I’m a kid. My body’s like, ‘No way, kid.’”
Davis looked back at his choices and said he felt content.
“I definitely don’t regret anything,” Davis said. “It was a tough decision to leave Iowa. It worked out very well for me. I’d definitely do it over again.”
He still keeps in touch with some of his teammates: Ryan Bowen, Guy Rucker and Alvin Robinson.
Davis said he can see himself coaching 10 years from now. He wouldn’t mind being on the sidelines at Iowa.
The whirlwind career continues. The journey has taken him far from his roots.
“I came a long way for a corn-fed boy,” Davis said, smiling. “I thank God about it every day.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball