(Photos by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY — In its three years in existence, the Big 3 Basketball Tournament has become a big deal. The traveling 3-on-3 basketball league has become a hit almost everywhere it goes.
It stopped in Oklahoma City Sunday with six of the league’s 12 teams playing three games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Big 3, which was founded by entertainment mogul Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, has now come to Oklahoma twice in three seasons.
But while much of attention went towards the rosters filled with former NBA players and the fans who came out to support the event, their biggest move may have taken place Saturday.
With no fan fair and only one member of the media on hand, the Big 3 in conjunction with the Ricky Davis Legacy Foundation spent several hours at the City Rescue Mission for the Dribble Out Hunger initiative, which provides food and personal essentials to displaced, disadvantaged and destitute communities and families.
“This is the third year we are now doing stuff in every city,” said former NBA player Rickey Davis. “We are doing the Dribble out Hunger campaign. We do the Legacy labs and health fairs for the kids. Just anywhere we can be in the community lifting a helping hand. Just giving back.”
Davis spent 12 seasons in the NBA before playing his final game in 2010. He is now a co-captain on the Big 3s Ghost Ballers.
Despite a long career that saw him play on six different NBA teams, Davis wasn’t ready to stop playing basketball. So he jumped at the chance to join the Big 3 when the league began operations in 2017.
Davis also wasn’t ready to stop giving back to his community and those that are less fortunate just because he was no longer in the NBA.
“The Ricky Davis Legacy Foundation started my first year in the NBA,” Davis said. “Just giving a donation to various programs, kids, people in need, communities. And every year it’s just been getting better and better. Adding different programs, different initiatives for kids, homeless people. So now we have just hooked up with different community places like the rescue mission. Just going in and giving a helping hand any way we can.”
The City Rescue Mission (800 W. California Ave.) is the largest homeless shelter in Oklahoma City. The privately-funded organization houses 350 men, women and children and is faith-based.
Davis contacted the mission five days before The Big 3 came to Oklahoma and asked if he could do something for the residents. That help turned into the Ricky Davis Legacy Foundation donating food (from Brother’s Produce), toiletries, clothes, shoes and other items and hand-delivered them to the residents.
Davis personally helped the children pick out new shoes, which many of them have not had for quite some time.
The foundation also provided a barber and hairstylist for the residents.
“You know, you look good, you feel good,” Davis said. “That’s what it’s all about. Some people think it’s all about the money. But if you can help them get a haircut so they can look good to help them get a job. Just little things that some people miss that we try to help with.”
Joining Davis at the shelter were NBA legends Rick Barry and Clifford Ray, along with former players Jamario Moon and Donte Green. The four of them served food to the residents and then took photos and signed autographs with the excited residents.
“This is kind of home,” Ray said. “So any time I can help. I have always been an advocate of (Davis). He does good things. It’s my pleasure to be here.”
Ray, 70, played his college basketball at the University of Oklahoma (1969-71) before being drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1971. He then went on to play 10 years in the NBA with the Bulls and Golden State Warriors. That included winning a championship with the Warriors in 1975.
Ray, who has also been an assistant coach and consultant in the NBA, said giving back to the community should be something all former players should strive to do after their playing days end.
“I just think that if you can do something all over the country and you have the means to get around and do so, it’s a positive thing,” Ray said. “And it can’t do anything but help. It might be able to encourage some of the other players to do things. Because sometimes if you look around, there are a lot of things we can do if we are just asked. A lot of times people don’t ask us. When you get older, they don’t ask you, but this is a good thing.”
For Davis, giving back is not really a choice.
“God has blessed me,” Davis said. “So just being a blessing to others is important to me and my family. It’s what we stand for. Being able to bring my kids and show that everyone is not privileged. We are blessed.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider