ORLANDONo one has ever questioned Glen Davis' desire to be one of the NBA's better players, even when he was a super-sub for the Boston Celtics.
The exodus of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers left a huge vacuum in the Orlando Magic lineup, a void Davis now has every intention of filling.
It will require him to do something that the 6-foot-8 forward has never been asked or expected to do since coming to the NBA: Be a leader.
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So far, so good for Davis who has been named a co-captain of the Magic this season.
"It's a different experience," Davis said. "It's something I'm not used to. It's something I've never encountered, but I love it. It's something I've always wanted. It forces you to see if you can go to the next level, or why players stay the way they are and don't get better. Do you really want to go to the next level?"
The answer to this has always been "yes" for Davis. However, now it appears that his actions are in line with his words.
Both teammates and head coach Jacque Vaughn speak of how Davis has embraced his role as a leader, a role that's strikingly different than the one he had during his four years in Boston.
"He's accepted the role rather nicely," said Vaughn, in his first season as the Magic's head coach. "He's done a good job of being a leader in practice, being a leader on the floor, being held accountable. Those are all the things that go into accepting more responsibility. He's done a good job with it."
Davis' fellow captain Jameer Nelson said the addition of Davis to a leadership position should help him better direct his emotions, which Celtics fans remember can get the better of him.
"Making him a captain helps him channel those emotions in the right direction," Nelson said. "He's very passionate about the game and wants to win. You want somebody fighting with you, that has the characteristics he has."
With the Celtics, Davis was an impact big man off the bench who could score and defend. And when called upon, had the ability to rise to the occasion in big games.
But having all-stars on the roster such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo made it difficult for Davis to become the consistent, high-impact talent he believed himself to be.
But as you listen to Davis talk about needing to play with more consistency, finding that happy medium between being true to himself but keeping the team's goals first and foremost, it's clear how playing with the C's has rubbed off on him even in his new role with his new team.
"I welcome the challenge," Davis said. "This is an opportunity to start something fresh and new, something I always wanted to do. I've been part of Celtics where guys like KG were already there . . . this is an opportunity for me to be, 'the guy.' "
And with that comes the responsibility to pass along some of the lessons he learned during his time with the Celtics.
"I'm pretty lucky, getting drafted and going straight to Boston and seeing the way high-level players perform and the way they approach everyday," Davis said. "You kind of put yourself in their shoes, how do they play . . . They went to the next level and became superstars. Hopefully I can use this as a platform to push me to a different level."