July 28, 2011
Storm Standout Mel Davis '75CBA Still Scores for St.
From 1970 to 1972, one of the stars of St. John's basketball was
Melvyn Davis '75CBA.
The intimidating 6-6 forward led the Red Storm in both scoring
and rebounding, culminating in a successful professional career
playing for the NBA's New York Knicks, the ABA's New York Nets and
various teams in Europe.
"I can truly say that I lived my dream," the St. John's legend
recalled. "Not many people can say that. Growing up in Brooklyn,
every kid dreams about playing in Madison Square Garden with the
Knicks. Lo and behold, St. John's gave me the stage and the
opportunity I needed to make it there."
Four decades later, Davis is once again an important face on
campus. He returned to the University in 2008 to serve as Director
of Development for Basketball Alumni, a job that he thoroughly
"I reach out to our basketball alumni living domestically and
internationally and I explain to them what St. John's is like
today," Davis said. "I hope to get them to come back to campus so
they can see the University's major transformation with their own
eyes. They can see St. Thomas More Church, the new D'Angelo Center,
the renovations to Carnesecca Arena, and I explain how competitive
and diverse we are as an academic institution. At the end of the
day, it's all about getting our alumni reconnected."
Davis can relate to basketball players on a number of different
levels, whether they've played in the United States or abroad,
whether they're still playing or are retired.
With the Knicks, Davis learned what it's like to live on the
road and grind through a grueling NBA season. He also had the
opportunity to play with and befriend many of the franchise's most
legendary players, including Willis Reed, Walt "Clyde" Frazier,
Phil Jackson and former senator Bill Bradley.
"Those gentlemen are still dear friends of mine," Davis
explained. "I speak with Willis Reed probably once a week and I
keep in touch with all the guys."
But his years playing professionally in Europe shaped Davis's
outlook even more significantly, educating him as much off the
court as on.
"My scope and view of life broadened, and I blossomed as an
individual," he said. "You learn new languages, new cultures, new
customs. For example, I spoke Italian fluently and my daughter
attended a United Nations school and was speaking seven different
languages. My family and I simply had a wonderful experience
traveling throughout Europe and seeing history."
After his professional career, Davis worked in the marketing
department of PepsiCo, overseeing Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken
and Taco Bell franchises, in addition to other successful chains.
He later returned to basketball, taking on a position in the NBA
League Office working for Commissioner David Stern.
But one of Davis's proudest accomplishments came when he served
as Executive Director and President of the NBA Retired Players
"That was a very rewarding position," Davis recalled. "We
developed programs to help rookies adjust to the NBA, in addition
to assisting players with their post-playing careers. That program
is now the blueprint for other major American sports leagues,
including the NFL, MLB and NHL."
Davis's experience as a college star, a professional player, an
international player, an NBA executive and an influential leader of
the Retired Players Association makes him an ideal candidate to
reach out to basketball alumni. And with the men's basketball team
coming off one of its most exciting seasons in recent memory, Davis
expects to be busy.
"This past season was fantastic," Davis noted. "Fans, alumni and
friends felt good about St. John's, they were talking about St.
John's, and alumni more than ever want to reconnect. I expect a lot
of people will want to come back this upcoming year, so that will
certainly be a tough task. But it's a task I'm greatly looking