New Orleans Hornets
A star's newly chiseled body gives the team a healthy outlook
By Chris Ballard
Team Page | Conference ranking: 4 | Overall ranking: 11
Practice was winding down early in training camp, and players were pairing off to shoot free throws. As he walked toward a basket, Hornets point guard Baron Davis discarded his shirt, revealing a torso straight off the cover of Men's Health. Deltoids bulged, abs rippled. An onlooker let out a whistle and said, "Damn, boy, you look slim. Look like a model." Davis smiled like he'd just been asked to the prom.
Last season Davis missed 32 games because of knee and back injuries, and when he was able to play, he lacked his trademark champagne-pop hops. Frustrated with his physical condition, he spent the off-season working out with his personal trainer in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He lifted, ran three to five miles every morning, strengthened his back and his core muscles and stretched for an hour a day. He also hired a personal chef, who lived with him and prepared three low-carb meals a day. "Breakfast would be, like, egg whites with tomatoes, turkey sausage and feta cheese," says Davis. "Then for lunch I'd have salmon and spinach or something like that."
He lost 10 pounds, gained muscle and was soon posting up and dunking again -- "the first time I've done that in camp in two years," Davis says. With free-agent acquisition Darrell Armstrong on board to back him up, Davis should be better rested as well this year. Now if forward Jamal Mashburn can also stay healthy (he played 82 games for the first time in his career last season), the Hornets could even get past the second round of the playoffs, something they've never done in their 15-year history.
Even if they don't, Davis will enjoy at least one fringe benefit. "Women seem to like the new look," he says. "All except my grandmother. She keeps telling me I'm getting too skinny."
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Hornets
"With his poor record from his days as the scapegoat for the Bulls, Tim Floyd (49-190) is going to have to earn the respect of the veterans, who loved playing for Paul Silas. A good start is going to be important for him.... This is the kind of well-balanced, talented group that Floyd dreamed of coaching in Chicago. After years of searching they've finally found an excellent backup point guard in Darrell Armstrong, who's also a vocal leader. He'll have an especially positive influence on b, a tremendous talent who can get a little carried away with himself.... David Wesley is 32, but he's a Charles Oakley type in that he's tough, strong and always in good shape. Armstrong is 35, but he looks 10 years younger, and he was diving for loose balls in preseason.... Davis and Wesley really know how to complement each other, playing off screens or floating into the open spaces. The Hornets do a lot of double screening, during which the guards will go one way then reverse direction, and they always seem to be wide open when they receive the ball. Both players are also strong enough to take post guards up.... Re-signing P.J. Brown was important because he gives them a bit of everything at both ends of the floor. He and Jamaal Magloire make a nice twosome up front, though neither is a scorer you would look to establish inside.... Jamal Mashburn is one of the best offensive players in the East, and a key for this team is that he continues to exhibit the leadership and all-around play that made him an All-Star last season.... First-round pick David West is a four-year collegian from Xavier who can contribute immediately. He can hit the midrange jumper, post up and deliver the ball with his interior passing. I'd play him ahead of 'Tractor' Traylor, who is getting so big he looks more like a train than a tractor."
Issue date: October 27, 2003