Who’s A Baby??

By Kevin Blackistone
Updated: May 12, 2009

Glen

Glen "Big Baby" Davis

MARYLAND — As it turns out, Glen Davis is not a Big Baby. He is a Magnanimous Man. And he’s more magnanimous than I could ever be under the circumstances.

To be sure, what the husky 6-foot-9, 289-pound Boston Celtics’ forward did early Tuesday, two days after hitting the buzzer-beating shot in Orlando to even his team’s playoff series with the Magic at two wins apiece, was absolutely unnecessary.

Davis apologized for running into a 12-year-old boy, ensconced in Magic gear and seated courtside, as Davis turned to run to his team’s bench to celebrate the biggest shot of his career.

The boy’s father, Ernest Provetti, demanded an apology from Davis on Monday.

The Boston Globe on Tuesday quoted Davis from a Celtics’ shoot around before the tip-off of the series’ Game 5 in Boston: “If I’ve hurt anybody or if I’ve done any harm to anybody, please forgive me because my intentions were harmless.”

Davis said he never saw Ernest Provetti’s son, Nicholas, who, by the way, barely budged after Davis bumped him. It was no more than a literal brush with greatness for the kid. Davis went beyond a call of duty that didn’t even exist with his effusive apology.

“If I had seen him, I would have picked [him] up, rubbed his head and tried to make him feel better,” Davis said. “I’m a big guy. I’m sorry if I hurt anyone.”

He didn’t. The only damage seemed to be as slight as it was temporary: Nicholas’ Magic cap was knocked off his head.

Boston Celtics Photos

    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics rebounds against the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rajon Rondo

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics shoots against Dwight Howard #12 and Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ray Allen;Dwight Howard;Rashard Lewis

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics shoots against Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kendrick Perkins;Rashard Lewis

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic takes the ball to the basket against Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwight Howard;Kendrick Perkins

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics shoots against Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kendrick Perkins;Rashard Lewis

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics tracks a rebound against the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rajon Rondo

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics is defended on his drive to the basket by Tony Battie #4 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Glen Davis;Tony Battie

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics rebounds against the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rajon Rondo

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics reaches for the ball after stripping Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rajon Rondo;Dwight Howard

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    ORLANDO – MAY 10: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic rebounds against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 10, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwight Howard

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If there was any damage in real need of repair it was that against civility created by Nicholas’ father in what was a crazed rant he issued to the NBA via an email that was reported upon by The Orlando Sentinel’s Shannon Owens. Owens wrote that Provetti told the NBA that Davis conducted himself like a “raging animal” with no regard for fans’ personal safety.

I don’t know if there is a more utterly disgusting characterization of another human being, or one more stereotypically racist for a white man, as is Provetti, to spit about a black man, as is Davis.

This is why media mogul Rupert Murdoch issued a public apology to President Obama earlier this year. Murdoch’s New York tabloid, the Post, printed a cartoon lampooning the stimulus bill that had the audacity to compare President Obama, the first U.S. president with an African father, to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by New York police.

This is why Howard Cosell and Billy Packer had to explain themselves for referring to black athletes they commented upon on television as monkeys.

This is something many of us have been fighting for centuries, and it is 2009 and it still rears its despicable head.

This is why the only apology in what should be a non-event at a basketball game is due from Provetti, who later Tuesday found it within himself only to dial back his complaint. His original words were an affront to decency.

It is all sad anecdotal evidence of a year-old series of six studies from Stanford and Penn State universities that demonstrated that one of the most-demeaning racial stereotypes ever lodged in the minds of white Americans still exists — that black citizens are animal-like or ape-like.

I’d wager that had, oh, a white player — especially one for Provetti’s Magic, like, say, J.J. Redick — bumped into Nicholas after hitting the game-winning shot, that Provetti wouldn’t have sounded a peep, except to describe the player as being overcome with youthful exuberance.

This is not some psychobabble that should be casually dismissed because it has real consequences. Part of the study looked at the impact on the justice system.

“We looked at 183 cases over a 20-year span where a defendant was found guilty of a crime and was eligible for the death penalty,” lead author Phillip Atiba Goff, an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State, told the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy last year.

“We looked at any article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that mentioned the incident, up until the sentencing. We coded them for words like ‘ape,’ ‘beast,’ ‘brute’ or ‘jungle’ — ape-specific words.

It turned out African Americans had significantly more ape-related images ascribed to them than did whites. And among African Americans, the more ape-related images you had in your press coverage, the more likely you were to be put to death.”

That’s the extreme, of course. But that’s why the father’s reaction to Davis is so maddening.

Furthermore, the reason he was seated with his son in the front row, the most-expensive seating, was ostensibly so he and his son could experience the NBA up close and personal.

That’s the danger. Players may run into you. A ball may bounce your way. You may be left with a spilled beverage or cap knocked crooked. Big deal. What a show-and-tell the video of the incident became for Mr. Provetti’s boy back at school.

The great thing about sports for all of us is that over the years it has turned into a proving ground that has successfully broken down racial stereotypes in all arenas. I shudder to think what Nicholas is learning from his father’s recent actions. I hope they’re drowned out by the needless words from a Real Man in Boston.