Former Tar Heel All-American, Olympian, and NBA Rookie of the Year Walter Davis is on hand this week at the Shaw's Summer Pro League in Boston. Davis, whom Michael Jordan once (unsuccessfully) begged Chicago Bulls management to sign, has joined forces with that other "retired" Tar Heel to try to bring back winning professional basketball to the nation's capital. Davis agreed to this short interview at halftime of the Milwaukee-San Antonio Summer League game in Boston on Wednesday afternoon.
TW: Who are you working with now, in what capacity are you here?
Davis: The Washington Wizards, I'm an advance scout for the Wizards.
TW: How long have you been doing it for?
Davis: I've been in it since September. Michael called and said he had a position he wanted me to interview for, and I went down. We talked about advance scouting, he liked it, and so he hired me.
TW: What percentage of the players in this summer league realistically have a shot at being considered for an NBA roster?
Davis: I don't know what the percentage is–I think it goes up if you're drafted to the right team that suits your style. But it's not a very high percentage because most of the time the teams are set-- it's that 10th, 11th, and 12th man spot that are up for grabs. And then with the developmental league here, [the NBDL, announced on Tuesday] a lot of those guys are being looked at for that too, so that increases their chances of staying on a competitive team, and maybe they can make it to the NBA at a later time.
TW: Is there anything you're looking for in particular from the players you're evaluating?
Davis: (laughs) We're looking for guys that can play! Kwame Brown I thought did a good job last night, it was the first time I had seen him play since we drafted him #1. Obviously, we need people at every position, so we're looking at everybody. But I guess the main thing you look at is foot speed, shooting, ballhandling, things like that, and good attitude also.
TW: What's it been like working for Michael Jordan?
Davis: It's great. He's a good boss, he lets me do my job, it's fun. What can I say?
TW: You were doing some announcing for a while, have you given up on that or are you thinking about getting back into it?
Davis: I'm concentrating just on the scouting right now–who knows, down the line, I won't say that I won't ever do the announcing. I enjoyed it, and maybe one day down the line I'll do it again but for right now I enjoy the scouting part.
TW: Have you had a chance to communicate with the Wizards players themselves and talk to the about what you went through–you had so many highs and lows in your NBA career–and impart your wisdom?
Davis: I did last year, I got back there early, about two weeks before they went to training camp, guys were coming into town to start working out a little bit. I was trying to help the guys about my height, the 3s and the 2s, about how to get good footwork, how to get their shot off, good moves to have, and situations like that.
TW: How do you think North Carolina will do next year with Forte and Haywood?
Davis: Well, it's going to be tough without those two guys in there, they're such great players, but if anybody can bring it along... They've got a lot of talent, guys will have to step up. I'm sure Matt will do a great job.
TW: What was it like for you as a former player to watch the team last year after the coaching transition?
Davis: Well, I support Matt, I wish him all success. I went to school there and of course I want my school to do good, and want him to do well and for all the players to have good experiences there. I watch every game I can, if I can't, I'll tape it, to see what kind of style he's going to have compared to Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge.
TW: You should be in the NBA Hall of Fame. Is that something you think about?
Davis: Well (smiling), we'll have to see what happens down the road.