Friday, January 11, 2008


Mel was a first round draft pick by the New York Knicks in 1973. Davis said he was told that he was drafted to eventually replace Dave DeBusschere. Davis holds the all time rebound record at St. John's, having pulled down 436 rebounds. Davis told the audience that he became very friendly with Knicks star Dave DeBusschere and learned many of the secrets of playing defense from him.
Though Davis was drafted right after the 1972-73 Knicks won the NBA Championship, he had a chance to perform with all the players on that classic unit. "It was an unforgettable experience," he says. "Willis Reed was my roommate. Willis, The Pearl, Jerry Lucas, and Clyde are close friends of mine till this day. Bill Bradley and I had breakfast together just last week. It was a very special group of men, all unique in his own way. I don't think there's ever going to be another team like that."
"They understood the game from the neck up. They were all skilled as individuals, but played the game together as a unit and played for the team."
"Kids today are so skilled," adds Davis. "They play the game above the rim. But that only takes you so far -- when you play the game from the neck up, it makes you last and it makes you win."
"Willis was the consummate pro," says Davis. "Like a big brother, he explained to you all the things to do and not to do. He made you understand that you are very lucky to play in this league -- but if you work long and hard on your skills you will have a prosperous career. And The Pearl was the same way: easygoing, helpful, just a super guy."
"We all got along great," Davis recalls with a smile. "I was a power forward, I was there to rebound. I'd get the board and give the ball to The Pearl or Clyde. I'd never get it back, of course. But when you give the ball to a Pearl or a Clyde, you can't get too upset about that."
Davis followed his four year NBA career with five more seasons of playing in Italy, France, and Switzerland -- "I thought I still had some good basketball left in me," he says. "Those years were fantastic -- it even superseded my NBA experience. It made me into a different person. I learned languages. I learned about another culture. And I was seeing history."
Then the owner of a marketing degree from St. John's, a Masters in psychology and counseling from Fordham, and another Masters in career planning from NYU was ready for life after hoops.
"I was getting my degree from NYU while playing with the Knicks," he recalls. "I also did several internships, talked a lot to my experienced teammates about their plans after the NBA.. I wanted to be proactive rather than reactive in my life after basketball so I knew I had to be prepared. I wanted to know what I wanted to do as opposed to what I didn't want to do."

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