Ricky Davis, the 12-year vet who had stints with the Celtics, Cavs and Heat (among others), thinks he would have thrived in today’s NBA.
“I would have put my head down and gone straight to the basket. I would have gotten to the line 20 times a game,” Davis assured The Crossover earlier this month. The 37-year-old Davis has no designs on an NBA comeback anytime soon, but he will participate in the next best thing: the BIG3, Ice Cube’s three-on-three basketball league that kicks off Sunday in Brooklyn.
The traveling show features eight teams filled with NBA cult favorites of yesteryear, and will hit 10 cities this summer, including a championship game in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. The Crossover caught up with Davis earlier this month to discuss the BIG3, his NBA career and more.
Rohan Nadkarni:Who are you most looking forward to playing against in the Big3?
Ricky Davis: Well, that’s a good question actually. Probably one of my ex-teammates. Rashard McCants. Lee Nailon. Mike James. All those guys will be fun to go against as my ex-teammates. No really personal battles there.
RN: What do you hope to get out of this experience?
RD: The most I can get out of it is to continue my career, continue my legacy. That’s what it’s all about. Ice Cube has definitely set the stage for us for guys to actually finish out their career. And it’s just a great opportunity for guys that still got it who can’t get in the league. It’s a great opportunity for guys as a transition.
RN: How have you been preparing for the season? Do you work out a lot?
RD: I’m actually in the gym everyday myself. I’ve never really stopped. I’ve started a lot of stuff with my foundation, youth stuff and coaching. But since before then I’ve been working out every day. When I found out about the Ice Cube league and what was really going on, I started to take it seriously, getting my mind right and my body right for that impact.
RN: How competitive do you expect everyone to get during games?
RD: I’m expecting it to be very competitive. You’ve got a lot of big name guys who’ve been All-Stars before. It’s just a matter of time for everyone to get in shape and build their confidence. Once that confidence and rhythm comes back guys are going to start talking trash and getting competitive.
RN: I want to talk about your NBA career a bit. You actually played on Pat Riley’s last team. What was the experience like playing for him?
RD: It was amazing. It was a life-changing thing playing with Coach Riley. He was definitely a great leader. He changes you from on the court to off the court. He keeps you focused and let’s you know what hard work and dedication are all about. He’s one of the legend coaches in the game.
RN: With Riley, everyone mentions his crazy motivational stuff, like dunking his head in a bucket of ice or his speeches. Do you remember anything like that from your days with him?
RD: I was there when he dunked his head in the ice and almost passed out. Alonzo Mourning went in there and pulled him out. He’s done that a couple times. He’s not only a coach, he’s a great leader. I appreciated his pep stories, he made me ready to run through a wall for him.
Every day, every practice he had something. He has a motivational speech or story. Before these games he has pep talks or stories and you’re just waiting for something. I actually got a good one. Pregame, he’s talking, and the fire alarm goes off. And he’s saying his speech, and he was so mad that the fire alarm interrupted him, he ripped the fire alarm off the wall. It didn’t stop the noise, but he still ripped the thing off the wall. And after that he just laughed and said, “Guys, go out there and hit them like that.” It was just amazing some of the stories he has.
RN: Is there anything that you would do over in your career?
RD: It’s a lot of life experiences that I’ve had, and nothing I really regret. Only thing you learn from all your experiences is never do something that you’ll regret tomorrow. I came in at 17 years old. Coming in at that age, you just have to be careful.
RN: So a lot of older players see this current generation and say, “Oh, our team would have destroyed the Warriors” and stuff like that. Why do you think so many of you guys feel that way?
RD: The game has changed so much. The older players, even myself, I went through three different generations of basketball. When I came in it was violent, with hand-checking and guys beating each other up. Then it was no hand-checking. Then it was no touching at all, teams scoring lots of points.
The reason the older guys say that is because what they went through, what they had to battle to win those championships. You had guys playing with broken bones and broken legs and torn tendons. These days guys are kind of soft, they get everything handed to them. And each guy is running to each team making these blockbuster teams. I think that’s why the older guys don’t give them any credit. It’s whoever is stacked, wins.
RN: Are you not a fan of the Warriors and Cavs then?
RD: I wouldn’t say I’m not a big fan because I actually like those guys being able to play together. Sometimes the nucleus just doesn’t mix. You still have to bring it in the playoffs. My hats off to that team coming together and shutting the haters down.
RN: Who are the guys you like watching the most?
RD: I enjoy watching Steph Curry, how he’s changed the game. He actually started this four-point play stuff that Ice Cube’s got going on. I definitely enjoy watching Steph, LeBron. Westbrook is like a freak of nature. It’s just amazing how the game has changed. It’s amazing how everyone is chasing triple doubles like me.
RN: So you said the trash talking will pick up once the games start. But I’m giving you the floor right now. How much are you going to dominate the Big3 league?
RD: I’m going hard. I’m going hard in the paint. I’m trying to average 20, 30 points a game. You got to have an IQ to play three-on-three basketball. Hopefully we can take it to them. Those four-pointers are going to change the game. I’ve been working on my Steph Curry out there.