Column: Oh, baby, Clippers’ Glen Davis is cooking up a healthier lifestyle
No man is an island, but some are continents.
Known fondly as “Big Baby,” the Clippers’ Glen Davis weighs in at nearly 300 pounds and measures 290 feet down the foul poles.
A presence off the bench, with an energy that ignites teammates and fans, Big Baby is an immovable beast, the kind of power forward-center hybrid who adds a different dynamic.
He’s also a hustle guy who’s not shy to set a screen or hit the hardwood. Indeed, the affable Louisiana State product was part of what might have been a turning point in the Clippers’ impressive late-season run.
That came in the Portland smackdown April 1, when Chris Kaman sissy-pushed Chris Paul from behind and Davis rushed to his teammate’s defense. Amid the mayhem, there was Big Baby wildly backpedaling, stopping only when his big bucket bounced the floor.
If you love basketball, you had to smile and shake your head. You’re all about the base, Big Baby.
Of course, some fans and media members were less charmed by the incident, accusing Big Baby of faking the fall.
“I’ve never seen a flop in a skirmish,” one announcer said during the replay.
“I just tripped,” the second-year Clipper says.
Either way, that one-minute sequence, a mirthful yet galvanizing moment, captured the spirit of these Clippers as they rallied to win in Portland, setting up a seven-game winning streak going into the playoffs.
From the very start, Davis has been bigger than his stat line, the most noticeable topographic feature of any situation. At 9, he was already too big to play football with kids his age, and he would sometimes break into tears against older opponents. Frustrated by his teary star, a coach scolded him for being a “big baby.”
“Bullying was viewed a little different back then,” Davis says.
For the most part, “Big Baby” was usually used more in fondness than derision. And for good reason. At 15, Davis and one of his youth camp’s star coaches, Shaquille O’Neal, got to horsing around, the way big horses do, and the next thing anyone knew, the teenager had a full body takedown of one of the NBA’s biggest stars.
Yet, even in the plus-sized NBA, bigger isn’t always better. Nor healthier. Struggling with a foot injury two years ago, Davis realized that to finish out an NBA career, and to compete against younger players, he needed to eat smarter.
“What really got me going was my genetics,” says Davis, 29, whose father died of a heart attack at 55. Recently, he lost a cousin to heart disease.
So now, the Clippers’ own round mound of rebound is trying to become a spokesman for eating healthier. This month, he started an Internet cooking show, where he puts together his beloved gumbo with chicken broth instead of the traditional oil and flour, with a side of gluten-free cornbread.
What’s the world coming to, when power forwards start skimping on their breads?
Look, famous people have always been funky about food. Gwyneth Paltrow, the closest thing we have to a Renaissance princess, recently tried to live on food stamps for a week. She was widely mocked for it. As if being rich, gorgeous and completely tone deaf were a crime in this country.
In the sports world, Prince Fielder, another Renaissance figure, has long insisted he’s a vegetarian, though he still seems to blot out the sun. He now plays in Texas, the only state big enough for him to actually sit down.
And who can forget what Tom Lasorda did for Slim-Fast.
With a little luck and perseverance, “Big Baby” Davis will have a longer crusade against calories.
In his cooking show, posted on Iambigbaby.com, he preps an Asian glazed chicken dish, topping it off with a sprinkle of chives and edible flowers. Through it all, Davis is comfortable on camera, and though the show could benefit from listing the recipes, his passion for healthy eating rings true.
“The whole team has been watching it,” he says proudly.
There are limits.
“I tried to be a vegan for a while,” Davis says over the phone. “I tried it for a couple of weeks but I wasn’t getting enough protein to get me through games.”
Even so, he’s down 20 pounds and feels better, with greater energy. The hardest challenge, he says, is when the team goes on the road, rife with bad eating choices.
“Eating [poorly] is something that’s hard to shake,” says Davis, who was raised in the Deep South, where rich feasts are a religion.
“You’ve really got to have your Bible of what to eat,” he says.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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