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Former NBA All-Star Baron Davis Wants Athletes To Think ‘BIG’

”We need to build more networks and oversight groups to be able to share with each other and stand against the broken systems.”

Baron Davis and ESPN's Cari Champion. Photo courtesy of Baron Davis/BIG Power Summit.

Two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis prides himself on his ability to make connections. After a career as a clutch point guard for the Charlotte Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the New York Knicks, Davis has taken his drive to a new arena, becoming a successful serial entrepreneur and passionate social impact advocate.

For Davis, the focus is on improving communities (with style and flair, of course) and executing when it counts most. He was one of the original investors in Vitaminwater, helped launch Thrive Market, and is the founder of Sports and Lifestyle in Culture (SLIC), The Black Santa Company, and No Label — a collection of companies that produce everything from pop-up events to heartwarming children's stories.

Now Davis wants to share what he's learned. He recently created the Business Inside the Game (BIG) Power Summit, an invitation-only traveling series of highly-curated talks and workshops. The most recent BIG events during the recent NBA All-Star weekend assembled a network of top thought-leaders, industry experts, and rising stars from diverse backgrounds in tech, music, and sports to connect, learn, and engage in dynamic discussions in Los Angeles.

And “big" it was: So many people showed up to participate, the fire marshall reportedly had to be called in.

Ice Cube, investor Hamet Watt, and Lyft president John Zimmer at the BIG Summit. Photo courtesy of Baron Davis/BIG Summit.

“All-Star Weekend was a hit because athletes are more inquisitive about finance, technology, and being entrepreneurs than ever before," says Davis. “Having CP3 [Chris Paul], David Robinson, Ice Cube, and Morgan DeBaun of Blavity showed that there is a cultural change in business occurring, opening up new opportunities for diverse voices and faces."

Other panelists at the summit included co-founder and president of Lyft, John Zimmer, and film producer Scott Budnick.

While Zimmer and Ice Cube discussed the meaning of “disrupting the status quo," Paul and Robinson talked about the importance of investing in projects with personal significance.

For Davis, that means pushing for inclusion and equity in the field of play both on the court and off. He's actively working with the LA84 Foundation to improve access to sports for youth and advocating for women in sports, business, and media.

“We need to build more networks and oversight groups to be able to share with each other and stand against the broken systems," he says.

The All-Star BIG Summit helps cultivate those networks — for instance, at a recent Valentine's Day women's networking luncheon at the Jeremey Hotel in West Hollywood. SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion hosted the event, which honored women in business, sports, and entertainment and featured motivating speeches by Champion, Davis, and Los Angeles Sparks president and chief operating officer, Christine Simmons. Attendees included actress and activist Sophia Bush, ESPN's Jemele Hill, and celebrity chef Nikki Shaw, among others.

Baron Davis and Authentic Ventures CEO James Andrews. Photo courtesy of Baron Davis/BIG Summit.

Now Davis says he's most excited about the rapidly emerging opportunities in tech and the high demand for content that are making it easier for creators to express their talents, especially as VR/AR and AI show promise for further engagement with entertainment in new ways.

So, what's the link between being a great athlete, business person, and advocate?

“Instincts," says Davis. “On the court and in the entrepreneurial world, trusting your gut on when to make the right plays and forge the right deals is essential."

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