On this day 40 years ago, Baron Davis was born in Los Angeles.
Davis played 13 seasons in the NBA from 1999-2012, including stints with the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks. He featured in two All-Star Games (2002, 2004) and was named to the 2003-04 All-NBA Third Team. He averaged 16.1 points and 7.2 assists per game for his career, finishing 36th all-time in dimes with 6,025. Davis played 835 NBA regular season games and 885 overall.
He got it done on the defensive end, too. In the 2003-04 and 2006-07 seasons, Davis finished first in the league in steals per game (2.4 and 2.1, respectively), ending his career with 1,530 total thefts, and is 25th all-time in steals per game in the NBA.
Before going pro, the guard spent two seasons at UCLA from 1997-99. He scored 15.9 points per outing as a sophomore with 5.1 assists per contest to boot. He made the AP All-American Third Team in the 1998-99 season, and before college was a McDonald’s All-American.
With plenty of hype surrounding his draft stock, Davis left early. The Charlotte Hornets selected him third overall in the 1999 NBA Draft.
Davis is best known for his performance in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. His Golden State Warriors snuck into the postseason as the eighth seed with a 42-40 record following a three-game winning streak to close the regular season. The Warriors faced the Western Conference’s top seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round and proceeded to pull off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. The Mavericks had won a franchise-best 67 games in the regular season and were defending Western Conference champions, falling in the NBA Finals in 2006 to the Miami Heat, and were headlined by Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse.
But Davis and the Warriors were not intimidated, and in six games completed the third-ever No. 8 seed over No. 1 seed upset in NBA Playoffs history and first in a seven-game series. Davis averaged 25 points, 5.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game in the series, leading his team in all three categories, and was vital to the victory.
The Warriors would lose in five games to No. 4 seed Utah Jazz in the second round, but not before Davis got off an all-time great highlight with a dunk over Andrei Kirilenko in the waning minutes of Game 3, Golden State’s only win of the series.
Davis played in the NBA Playoffs seven times in his career, appearing in 50 total games and starting 46 of them. He posted 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per contest in the postseason. The furthest he reached was the second round, winning first round series in 2001 and 2002 with Charlotte and in 2007 with Golden State.
He bounced among five different franchises and was twice traded, first in 2005 from the New Orleans Hornets to Golden State for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis. In 2011, he was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers in a package with a first-round pick (that would later become Kyrie Irving) to Cleveland for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams. He had signed with the Clippers in free agency in 2008, and after the Cavaliers waived Davis in 2011, he signed with the Knicks for the final 29 games of his career.