Before there was Allan Houston, there was Hubert Davis. Drafted out of UNC in 1992, just as the three-point shot had fully permeated the NBA game the way we see it today, Davis was among the first crop of long-range specialists. Through most of the 80’s, threes were limited to superstars like Larry Bird, who made threes just because they were better than everyone else, and a few volume shooters who couldn’t help themselves. Davis helped make threes more than a plaything of the over-skilled and overconfident; after his generation came a barrage of players that, although they weren’t stars, just couldn’t be left alone in the corner, and today it seems every team has a Dorell Wright or a Kyle Korver.
Statistically Davis peaked early in the NBA, putting in four solid years as a spot starter with the Knicks before bouncing around the league for another decade, mostly as a reserve. One of his best moments, and coincidentally one of my earliest as a sports fan, came in knocking down a couple of clutch free throws to win a crucial Game 5 against the Bulls in helping the Knicks to the Finals in 1994. He works today as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, and I best remember him as a stand-up, classy, likeable guy. Sometimes, and especially in the early 90’s NBA, that’s all you need.
One interesting note: did you know the Knicks used to make bad trades even before Patrick Ewing left? In the summer of 1996 the Knicks dealt Davis to Toronto for a late first round pick that ended up being…John Thomas, whom the Knicks then spun with a few others to Boston for…Chris Mills. Yeah. Although that Mills trade did land the draft pick that would become Lavor Postell, which gave my friends and me decades worth of comedy. So I guess some good came out of it.