Manny Pacquiao reciprocates Anthony Davis gesture with signed boxing gloves
New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis receives the signed Manny Pacquiao gloves from SPIN.ph US editor Homer Sayson (right) and writer Rex Alba.

CHICAGO - At a towering 6-foot-10, there are no such things as baby steps for the impossibly long-legged Anthony Davis. There are only giant leaps.

And that's exactly what the New Orleans Pelicans power forward is doing this season, making herculean strides that put him front and center of the everlasting MVP conversation.

Davis, campaigning in his fifth season since being taken as the No.1 pick in the 2012 draft, is averaging 30.7 points and 11.3 rebounds through nine games. He torched the Denver Nuggets for 50 points last October 26, and he punctured the Golden State Warriors for 45 two nights later. 

And while his team's record is a mediocre 2-9, the fickle finger of blame shouldn't be pointed toward the 23-year old. The Pelicans, you see, are missing key players (Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter) as well as All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, who took personal time off to be with his ailing wife.

I watched Davis play live in action a few days ago at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee. He was a sight to behold.

Although a heavyweight at 253 pounds, Davis has the physical serenity of a welterweight. He is quick and nimble, and he covers the court's 94 feet with effortless grace. He is a load to handle on offense, making 48.7 percent of his shots. On defense, he is tenacity draped in a No. 23 jersey. 

Averaging 2.9 blocks per game, he guards the paint as though his lunch depended on it.

A three-time All-Star, Davis is clearly a beast on the court. Off of it, though, he is anything but. I found that out when I met him and his famous eyebrows inside the visitor's locker room following the Pelicans' 112-106 victory over the host Bucks.

"Hey, what's up," he said, flashing a smile as wide as the Saragosa Sea. With his warm hospitality, I was instantly okay. 

We spoke 1-on-1 briefly by his stall as he got dressed and I told him how famous he was in our country and that his basketball-crazy Filipino fans are eager to see him in person. I asked him if he has plans to visit our shores someday.

"I'd love to go to the Philippines, man, I was supposed to go last season but I had issues to deal with my knees. Hopefully this summer," replied Davis, who signed a five-year, US $145-million contract extension last July.

Last April 2015, Davis gave Manny Pacquiao a signed New Orleans Pelicans No,23 jersey. Five days ago, I returned the favor on Manny's behalf, handing over to the former University of Kentucky star a pair of signed, blood-red Everlast  gloves.

"Thank you," he said while gleaming at the prized item. I told him the good senator wishes the Pelicans well and sends his warmest regards, 

After a photo-op, Davis and I shook hands and parted ways. He went back to his stall to talk to reporters. I exited the arena, retrieved my Rav 4 in the parking lot, and drove 86 miles back to Chicago with wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime. 

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