LONDON – Anthony Davis stopped dribbling, tucked the ball under one of his long arms and shook hands with the tall reporter whose face seemed so familiar.
“He had no idea who I was,” Christian Laettner said. “But he’s seen The Shot.”
Two players – one from Kentucky, the other from Duke – separated by 20 years yet so intertwined in U.S. men’s basketball history. All-Americans in college, both led their respective schools to national championships and then spent the following summer at the end of the bench on Olympic teams.
Stars to subs just that quick.
Earlier this week, Davis, at the London Games because a knee injury knocked Blake Griffin off the American roster, and Laettner, the 12th man on the 1992 Dream Team, met for the first time before a U.S. team practice.
They shared a few laughs and posed for pictures.
“He was cool, but I didn’t know who he was at first,” Davis said, a bit embarrassed. “I’ve heard of him. Everybody was asking me about him.”
Since arriving in England last week, the 19-year-old Davis, taken with the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft by New Orleans, has been asked about Laettner. After finishing his career at Duke, Laettner spent the summer of his life in Spain as teammates with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Davis only knew of Laettner the same way all Kentucky fans know him – the unspeakable villain who drained the immortalized buzzer-beating jumper that helped the Blue Devils beat the Wildcats in the East Regional final of the 1992 NCAA tournament.
Mention The Shot and any Kentuckian’s blue blood boils.
“Yeah, I’ve heard about it forever,” Davis said. “That’s OK. I think we made up for it this year.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.