The suit was all wrong. It was stylish, bought just two months before, and tailored to fit a lanky 6-foot-10 frame. But Ed Davis hated wearing it.
"I wish I was in uniform," the Raptor rookie said on Thursday.
The navy blue suit, not a red and black Raptors uniform bearing No. 32, was what the 21-year-old wore at Wednesday night's season opener against the New York Knicks. It should have been the first-round draft pick's debut in the NBA. It was supposed to be his chance to revel in achieving something great, like his father, Terry Davis, who spent a decade playing pro basketball.
Instead, he sat on the bench looking like a dapper (unhappy) young coach, all because of the meniscus tear he suffered in his right knee on Sept. 15 while playing in a pickup game in Mississauga. He had arthroscopic surgery a few days later.
Thursday's practice was the first time Davis was able to participate in game-situation drills with the team, although he was shut out of the ones involving contact. Then he remained long after his teammates had left, practising 15-foot jumpers with assistant coach Alex English, the sweat pooling down Davis's back, dripping past the black plastic brace hugging his knee. After that, he hit the weight room.
The Raptors' coaches aren't saying when they expect their new forward to return, although Davis has said he could be playing in a matter of weeks.
Until then, the soft-spoken Virginia native will have to stick to being a "student of the game." Rather than learning new systems by doing them, he listens. Instead of hoping to be called off the bench, he watches closely, learning from experts like Knicks all-star Amar'e Stoudemire.
"When you're on the sidelines, you really can see exactly what coach is talking about," Davis said. "Like, if a guy doesn't sprint back and he might think he did but he really didn't, just little things like that."
Asked on Thursday if it felt good to see his dream realized on Wednesday, he hedged.
"Like I said, I would have loved to be in uniform and help the team win. It kind of felt good, but not really."