Baron Davis is a rarity in this city. He is a true Los Angeles athlete, having grown up in South Central, playing high school basketball at Crossroads in Santa Monica, then in Westwood at UCLA, where after two years, he was chosen with the 3rd overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. But after 10 years in the NBA, playing for Charlotte, New Orleans, and Golden State, he came back home to Los Angeles, signing a 5-year contract with the Clippers.
We recently reached the 2-time All-Star by email, and took the opportunity to ask him about the food of his youth, and where he ate at each of his L.A. stops along the way.
Squid Ink: So let's start with growing up in South Central. What did you eat at home? Was there anywhere you went out to eat?
Baron Davis: When I was growing up, my grandmother cooked every day. She is the best chef ever. I didn't eat at many restaurants when I was younger. There wasn't much in South Central anyways, except for fast food joints… much like it is today!
SI: What sorts of things did your grandmother make for you?
BD: Mac 'n cheese, collard greens, all kinds of desserts. And she was the best vegetable-maker in the world!
SI: During your time at Crossroads, did you go off-campus to eat lunch? What were some of your Santa Monica spots?
SI: What about Westwood? Where did you go?
BD: Westwood was all about sandwiches, I loved Sandbags! And date night meant we usually went to Headlines Café. After games we always went to BJ's or Shakey's. It was all about the hearty college food and places where a bunch of us could go and hang out.
SI: Now you're back in Los Angeles as a Clipper. Where are you eating now?
SI: How difficult is it to balance having good taste, and the need to keep your body in shape for basketball?
BD: Everything in moderation is what I always try to tell myself. But whether you're an athlete or not, its always important to eat healthy. Might be a little easier now to eat more of what I want because we burn a lot of calories being on the court, but that won't last forever. I just try to have a balance in what I am eating.
SI: Talk to us a little about the food that's provided for the players on the team plane, in the locker room, and wherever else it crops up. How greatly does that vary from team to team?
BD: It's usually all about the same — always really healthy, nothing fried… everything baked or grilled, and there is always fruit and salads. The team does a really good job of taking care of us and making sure we're eating right.
SI: The NBA, as they say, is a business, and nobody is un-tradeable. Let's say, God forbid, that you got traded to another team. What would be your last meal in L.A. before you left?
BD: Any of my favorite Mexican spots: most likely Pinches or Tacos Por Favor.
SI: Last question. Better food town: Los Angeles or San Francisco?
BD: Hard to say, I love them both for different reasons. In S.F. I liked being able to go out my door and walk down the street to some great spots. In L.A., there are so many different options, I never get tired of the restaurants here.
The Los Angeles Clippers 2010-11 season begins Wednesday, October 27, at home against the Portland Trailblazers.