NBA / Jul 23, 2008 / 2:49 pm

The Loser List — Ricky Davis

You Play. To Win. The Game. One of the great football quotes of all-time, but one that also relates to every sport once you get past the Little League level. In the NBA, there are some players whose existence revolves around winning. They “get it.” They are the ones — Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, etc. — who end up with fistfuls of championship rings, and never seem to play on bad teams, even at their career low-points. On the flip side, there are those who never seem to win anything substantial. Talented, yes. Highly-paid, yes. But even if they play 15 years in the League, they won’t grasp what it’s really all about: Winning. Maybe it’s bad luck. Maybe it’s a character flaw. Maybe they just aren’t as good as we think they are.

Who are those players that perpetually find themselves catching more significant L’s than W’s? For the next couple weeks we’ll be calling them out one at a time:


Numbers: 28 years old, 10 NBA seasons, 14.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists.

Highest high: Back-to-back playoff appearances with the Celtics in ’04 and ’05, where Davis averaged 12.2 points.

Lowest low: March 16, 2003. With six seconds to go in a Cavs/Jazz game that was no longer in question, Ricky had 28 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in the box score. Trying to get the triple-double, he took an inbounds pass in the backcourt and intentionally missed a layup on the other team’s hoop to get that last rebound. It didn’t count. DeShawn Stevenson then fouled Ricky hard when he realized what had happened. After the game Jerry Sloan said, “This is not schoolyard basketball. Let him try to get it when the game means something. I was proud of DeShawn and I would have knocked him down harder. They can put me in jail for saying that, but that’s the way it is.”

History of losing
“Ricky Buckets” was a headliner on two of the worst NBA teams of the decade. He was the leading scorer (20.6 ppg) and had his best statistical season with those ’03 Cavs, who went 17-65. (Davis was a reserve the year before, when the Cavs won 29 games. When he became a starter, they got worse.) Then this past season, he was a starter for the 15-67 Miami Heat, the team’s second leading points-scorer behind Dwyane Wade. The two playoff appearances in ’04 and ’05 with Boston were the only times in Ricky’s career he’s been to the postseason. Since entering the League in ’98, only three times has he finished the season with a team that went above .500, and he was a backup on all three of those teams. He has feuded with coaches and teammates throughout his career — it’s widely believed that the Cavs traded Ricky so he couldn’t “poison” rookie LeBron James any further, and it’s also been rumored that the Celtics got rid of him for trying to undermine Paul Pierce‘s leadership. Once with Minnesota, he was suspended for leaving the bench and going back to the locker room after being taken out of the game. It should say something that on this summer’s free agent market, Davis is reportedly drawing little interest despite being a proven scorer in the League, someone who’s been relatively healthy over the years, and someone who won’t command a huge contract.

Will he ever be a winner?
Davis was at his best with the ’05 Celtics, when he came off the bench for the Atlantic Division champs and averaged 16 points per game. If his ONLY role is to come in and get buckets with the second unit, and you’ve got a team of veteran leaders who are clearly better players and a strong coach who won’t put up with any shenanigans, Ricky can be a contributor to a good team. True to his nickname, the guy can put up numbers, and sometimes you just have to let him go and do his thing. But if he’s one of your top guys, or one who’s imparting wisdom on the youngsters, get used to being in the Lottery.

The Loser List archive
7/21 – Gilbert Arenas
7/18 – Vince Carter

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  • yallallreadyknow

    he a born loser. no one even knew he been in the league for 10yrs.
    ..and we should rid him of the name ricky buckets. the bum averaged over 20ppg ONCE

  • Mskittle

    But offensively, for a 2 guard, what cant he do? Amazing athleticism and good shooting ability. He just needs to find the right fit.

  • http://sithlord24.blogspot.com Sith Lord 24

    why no one on this Loser List will ever want to do a Dime interview again or want to be on the cover. lololol
    but who cares right lolol

  • Promoman

    Dime finally nails a legit name for this category. Gilbert & Vince weren’t and aren’t clear cut losers, but Ricky’s a legit candidate. He’s athletic and could be an All-Star reserve, but he plays 0 defense and he passes (maybe)he can’t get a get a shot for himself.

  • fiyaman

    yep.. loser

  • srb

    ricky’s bucket brigade was awesome. i had him as my wallpaper for a while doing some sick jam. now it’s paul pierce on both of my computers.

    but seriously we were all just waiting until he left. fun to watch sometimes though. bad fouls are the strongest part of his game unfortunately.

  • hahns

    his dunk on the cavs (dont know on who) was one of the sickets dunks ever, a la vc on weiss (although vc’s was obviously sicker bc the guy was a 7 footer).

    i think its time for a “we reminisce” feature on that dunk, the one where he didnt believe it himself and screams “holy shit!” after

  • http://www.barackobama.com Jim

    I always thought that was an interesting thing, because DeShawn doesn’t strike me as an old-school guy. But Ricky’s not a star, so I don’t see what he did to belong here. If you start listing every NBA guy who doesn’t seem to care about winning but is pretty talented, well.

  • http://www.barackobama.com Jim



    I think I’m supposed to be studying for the bar or something. Instead I will chase down youtube clips for you.

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    back when d-steve was a rook plenty of articles came out that talked about how he was old school (relatively) compared to the rest of that draft class.

  • hahns

    hahah thanks jim, im at work now so youtube is blocked, but def checkin this out again when i get home.

    but get off dime and start studying!

  • Luigi

    yeah those wer the good ol days. Ricky Buckets kan join the spurs for about 1 mill. n he can be the 7th or 8th man

    ORRR he can join Europe n curse one of those teams when he averages 50 ppg

  • J-Dot

    Yeah Jim you’ve got like a week left dude. Get right!

    Dime, am I missing the purpose of your magazine and website? I have always felt like Dime exists to celebrate the game, player and life, seeking to shed a positive light on all things basketball, even the things that don’t shine too brightly on their own. Considering that Dime has placed a number of players on its cover (I think Ricky Buckets and VC were on covers, weren’t they?) it smacks of biting the hand that fed you. Recently, I spoke out against Gil’s inclusion on the list while suggesting other players that should’ve been on the list. Now, my train of thought leads me to believe this list probably shouldn’t even exist. However, it’s not my website, and I guess that goes without saying. I just feel like the message I’ve always gotten from Dime and HoopsTV is that basketball, while not perfect by any means, is a truly wonderful thing and everything that encompasses basketball should be appreciated. This sort of sounds like you guys are getting personal vendettas off your chest, which cheapens the Dime movement. Much respect-

  • C Burner

    Call him a loser, but I still want the signed shoe! And the biggest knock on Deshawn Stevenson when he was a rookie was the fact that he’s a statutory rapist, look that one up (I think that puts him on the loser list).

  • I.Dot

    The only team I think would take a chance on him is the Lakers.

  • NYCBalla

    Thanks for reminding me why I started liking Deshawn Stevenson. I know there’s alot of haters out there, but Deshawn is dope. I gained a lot of respect for him that night….and for Sloan too. Not a lot of coaches would defend there players due to public image.

  • Mark

    Why is Tracy McGrady not the headline for the Loser List? Seemingly unlimited potential, but he just can’t carry his (at times, capable) team to that last hump. Geez, here’s hoping he’ll at least win a playoff round one time in his career.

  • dagwaller

    Good post, J-Dot, but if this is the last edition of this feature, it’s a good one. Ricky Davis is the definition of the “loser” type.

  • JOB33

    give Buckets about 3 yrs when he gets desperate for a championship and realizes he can’t get it as the man..then one of these teams contending will pick him up for the vet minimum..he’ll play his role and shut his mouth

  • Simon

    I am assuming no one who has posted before me wants his shoe. I will still gladly take it even if you are calling my favourite player a loser.

    This may sound crazy, and I don’t know if this is true for Ricky Davis, but perhaps some people play sports for fun? As a professional who is paid millions of dollars your goal should be to win, but maybe some players are fine taking the criticism because all they really want is to stack paper and enjoy themselves.

  • Big V

    It’s pretty clear that Davis is a grade A loser. There was no point to even writing this article. You should stick to guys that are debatable losers. Ricky isn’t.

  • doc


  • SparkyJ23


  • hahns

    simon, interesting point. i think that gets missed in sports too much. just like how ppl were bustin on larry hughes for prioritizing fun over winning, i think players DO have a right just to play the game for the fun of it. i mean, why MUST a guy be cut throat like kobe? we should be able to respect a guys decision to play the game that way. and even though we might think of it as a “waste” of talent…its not bc hes using his talent to have fun and compete at the highest level of basketball

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    I think there’s happy medium you can find between fun and trying to win. LeBron is someone who appears to have fun on the court (prime example: him laughing after he dunked on Damon Jones), but obviously is trying to win and takes his job seriously. Magic Johnson was having fun out there, Larry Johnson, Tim Hardaway, etc.