Legends Spotlight: Baron Davis

January 31, 2018

By:Hemda Mizrahi - Rebound Magazine
Editor: Excell Hardy Jr.

EXPANDING INTO CREATIVE BUSINESS VENTURES THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY AND THE VERSATILITY OF PRO ATHLETES

As a two-time NBA All-Star and player for over 13 years, Baron Davis had a vision that went well beyond his athletic career. Recognizing both his creative and business talents early on as a pro, he launched a marketing company at the age of 23. At 24, he ventured into film production. Laying the groundwork for these startups by using his free time to meet with entrepreneurs whose work interested him, Davis took copious notes, learning about their business models and inviting suggestions. Through this exploration, he began to view companies as investment opportunities rather than endorsement prospects.

Davis elaborates, “When I was in the NBA, I always believed that I could expand my brand. I started to look at myself as my own private entity as opposed to an endorsee. It was a bumpy road, because people were saying, ‘How can you be an athlete and do other things?’ Entertainment and marketing were areas in which others doubted my ability to succeed. I wanted to demonstrate that athletes are well versed in disciplines outside of sports. I learned a lot about who I was through the NBA and received mentorship from executives, coaches and former players who were smart about their choices.”

He adds, “Sometimes it’s about survival and being willing to learn. You can practice for a long time and take care of your body, but there is space to carve out for other things. My vision is to bring athletes to together to collaborate the same way as on the court, through a company that allows them to be managed and branded from both the creative and business sides.” This vision has materialized in his founding of businesses that seek to increase social and educational awareness globally, such as “No Label Productions,” and “The Black Santa Company.”

Davis has partnered with a host of Hollywood veterans to produce documentaries, movies, music, and videos. He is one of the producers of the Emmy and NAACP Image-nominated documentary “Crips and Bloods: Made in America,” an official selection of both the Sundance and Los Angeles film festivals.

Through The Black Santa Company, he has built a brand that “celebrates diversity, fun, and positivity in storytelling by way of engaging content and high quality products” that are relatable to a broader audience, and which fill a void for African Americans. His initial product line features Christmas-themed clothing and ornaments that depict his first “colorful character,” Black Santa, and includes a coloring book that tells “inspiring stories of unsung, black historical figures.” Davis collaborates with other socially conscious, innovative organizations on events such as toy drives and holiday gift giving.
An active mentor and coach for young, emerging basketball players whose training and development he also supports through his nonprofit, “Rising Stars of America,” Davis encourages pros to engage the services of the NBA and Players Association to grow their brands. He emphasizes, “A lot of it will come from research and finding people [who are doing things that appeal to you] before you spend money. Listen and take notes. Investing in research and development can save you from bigger problems later on and help you to scale your business.”

He reflects that a lot of pros are entrepreneurial, and good ideas come from the discussions they have during off-the-court moments with their peers. Such conversations created a springboard for his goal of maintaining community for athletes in the form of telling stories of past and present players. He shares, “It’s great to get to know someone you’ve never played with and have always wanted to know. In striving to be the best storyteller, I want to keep alive the spirits of those who pay so many dues to the game. There is important education in these stories. You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know your history.”

Davis continues to practice the strategies that enabled him to advance into the simultaneous roles of NBA player and entrepreneur. He describes his recent participation in NBRPA’s Entrepreneurial Summit at the 2017 Legends World Sports Conference, as “a good opportunity to get together and talk about business opportunities with other athletes who are receptive to building relationships and coalitions.”

Davis’s careers in basketball and business are intertwined through the values, role models and heroes he portrays. Whether real or fictional, they tell creative, fun and inspiring tales that honor community, diversity, history, and the joy of giving.