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Atlanta Hawk Coach Hubie Brown was among NBA investigators who were not fooled. "This kid gave up his one-on-one skills to play the passing game at Carolina," says Brown. "How many guys ever saw Walter Davis do his dance? Nobody. Now nobody can guard him."
Philadelphia's Erving (who somehow appears to be the patsy of this piece but in reality is the NBA's Shane, against whom the young gunslingers must test themselves) was assigned to guard Davis twice. The games were split, but the gun of the Suns went for 35 and 29 points to Erving's 19 and 12. "Against Sweet D," said one observer, "the good Doctor looked like a horse doctor."
Davis' name did not appear on the All-Star ballot distributed to civilians—he was added to the team by a vote of the coaches—but in a separate players' tally he outpolled Rick Barry by 10 votes for a starting position on the West squad.
And everywhere he has played, the angular (6'6", 180 pounds) Davis has been a phenomenon in the fourth quarter. His average scoring by quarters this season, first to fourth, reads 4.8, 5.2, 6.3 and 7.3. He has hit double figures in the final period no less than 20 times. "Walt's flat-out the best forward in the league," says Phoenix's All-Star guard, Paul Westphal.
It is no coincidence that the 36-16 Suns have already won more games than they did all last season and are headed toward their finest record. "Adjustments?" says Davis. "The only difference from last year is I'm wearing orange and white instead of blue and white. I love the togetherness here."
However, there is love and there is love. Last week Davis arrived in Phoenix a day late from the All-Star break, missing practice, and was fined by Sun Coach John MacLeod. Where was he? Why, working out with the North Carolina Tar Heels, of course.
So even Sweet D Walter Davis is not above making basic rookie mistakes.