New Orleans -- The date has been circled on the calendar for Pelicans fans since Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers this off-season. AD is making his return to New Orleans for the first time since his tumultuous exit. He was with his new team at the Smoothie King Center Wednesday morning for their shoot-around, stepping foot on the floor as a part of the visiting team this time.
He's baaaaaack pic.twitter.com/oDaTixyN9F
— Karen Loftus (@kcloftus) November 27, 2019
"Obviously all the stuff before the game is what you think about," Davis said. "But once the ball's tipped, it's something that you've been doing for a long time and for me it's just going to be basketball."
LeBron James echoed those sentiments, in that he knows AD will be all business come game time.
"I think he's probably had it, he looked at it, seen when he was going to make his return back here," James said. "He's been anticipating that moment and now that moment is here. I think he's handling it exceptionally well. The excitement and the jitters and the butterflies will grow as the day goes on but once that tip-off begins it's the main thing is just trying to win the basketball game."
When asked whether or not he was expecting boos from the crowd, Davis couldn't say for sure what he was anticipating, but said he has no ill-will toward the fan base in New Orleans if they do.
"Obviously my time here was great and they're passionate about their team," Davis said. "I understand it. Even when I was here last year, I kind of understood it-- all the boos-- I understood it. I get why they do it. What they do tonight I can't control. I can control only what I can control and that's going out there and helping my team get a win. Whatever they decide to do, I understand it from my end."
So far this season, Davis is leading the Lakers with 9 rebounds per game and is second on the team in scoring with 25.1 points per game (LeBron James leads LA with 25.6 ppg).
"He's given us everything," James said. "He's given us scoring, rebounding, blocks, assists, leadership, a presence both on and off the floor, both offensively and defensively. He's given us everything that we would have asked for and more."
On the other side of this, it's a reunion for the three former Lakers who were sent to the Pelicans in that trade-- Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
"It's going to be great," James said about playing against his former teammates. "All three of them have been put into a much better situation and they've taken advantage of it. It sucks to see some of your teammates to go but then when you see them be able to flourish and get a new beginning you're super excited for them and proud of what they're doing. All three of them, obviously the injuries a little bit with Josh and with Zo but when they've been on the floor, all three of them have shown that a new environment has been better for them and their careers. Obviously we've seen it with BI more than anything."
The Pelicans (6-11) and the Lakers (15-2) tip-off at 8:30 p.m. CT. The Lakers have won 8-straight and have the best record in the NBA.