Ricky Davis, BIG3’s Reigning Scoring Champ, Finds Prosperity in League and Health Business
The BIG3 will soon be back for its third season, with more teams, more cities and a new broadcast partner (CBS Sports Network). To celebrate the impending return of Ice Cube's three-on-three basketball league, CloseUp360 spoke with five notable hoops luminaries involved in the league, who will be serving as players or coaches on the circuit this summer. On Monday, we featured NBA veteran-turned-BIG3 MVP and champion Corey Maggette. On Tuesday, it was Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, the reigning BIG3 Coach of the Year.
Today, it’s Ricky Davis, a 12-year NBA veteran and the BIG3’s defending scoring champ.
Injuries took their toll on Ricky Davis’ NBA career, but they didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion for basketball. After his last game with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010, he took his talents all over the world before returning stateside for stints in the D-League (now G League).
And though Ricky hasn’t played a full fall-through-spring season since 2013-14, he’s carved out a newer niche in pro basketball with the BIG3. The 39-year-old has been a part of Ice Cube’s three-on-three league since the start in 2017. With his first scoring title secured in 2018, he has an even bigger goal in mind for this summer: a championship with Ghost.
During the BIG3’s recent media day in Las Vegas, Ricky spoke with CloseUp360 about his physical recovery, reconnecting with old basketball friends, his work off the court and more.
(This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
Ricky Davis is going into his third season with the BIG3. (BIG3/Chapman Baehler)
CloseUp360: You last played in the NBA with the Clippers, before injuries cut your time in the league short. Where did your basketball journey take you from there and why?
Ricky Davis: I played in France, played in Turkey, played in China, played in Puerto Rico, just trying to get myself healthy, get back to the league there, get my rhythm back.
CU360: Did you find that you were able to rediscover both your own health and then the joy that comes with playing the game as a healthy person?
RD: Oh yes, definitely found that. I came back. My knee started feeling a lot better, and I just started feeling much better and better. Then Ice Cube comes with this opportunity to play in the BIG3 and it just blew up from there.
CU360: This will be your third season. How would you describe those first two years of playing in the BIG3 and getting to play pro ball in the U.S. again?
RD: It was great just getting back and starting this new league, getting it off the ground. And just seeing the talent, seeing it come together was just amazing. Getting the camaraderie of seeing these guys every day and hanging out with them. Each year got better and better. I got in better shape. Last year, won a scoring title. So just getting myself back in shape and out here, having fun with the guys.
CU360: Are there any guys in particular that you've reconnected with as a part of the BIG3 that you played with or against in the NBA, but sort of had lost touch with?
RD: It's a lot of them. It's about 20, 30 guys—even my teammates, [Carlos] Boozer, [Marcus] Banks. I hadn't seen those guys in over five, 10 years, so just good to see this camaraderie with the guys and hang out with them and catch up.
CU360: Have you found that in reconnecting with some of these guys on the court through the BIG3 that it helped to strengthen any relationships off the court?
RD: Yeah, it does. Definitely gets to rekindle that relationship back. When you're playing, guys get traded, you never seen them for a while. So just to get the chance to have our kids see each other's kids and us catch up. Guys are starting businesses together and just starting to help transition from that NBA life. It's definitely a great thing for us.
CU360: What was it initially that really attracted you to the BIG3? What was the pitch from Ice Cube that made you think, Okay, this is something I need to be a part of?
RD: Just Ice Cube himself. Just being a part of anything he touches is good for me. Watching him growing up, listening to him, he’s just an inspiration to me. Me making the league and being able to have this opportunity to start the league and be a good face of it, it's just amazing.
CU360: Ice Cube didn't play professional basketball, he wasn't involved in the NBA or pro basketball in an official capacity, but was still able to start something that's made a difference so far. What does that say to you about the basketball world, that it's able to incorporate people from different walks of life in that way?
RD: It says a lot. What he's done, not being an athlete, starting a league of these type of name-caliber guys, it's just... it’s huge, it's epic. And it shows that when you put your mind to it, you can actually do what you want. It shows the new generation that you can just keep going and keep going and whatever you put your mind to, whether you grew up doing sports or not, you can achieve anything if you put your mind and spirit to it.
CU360: It's my understanding that part of the appeal of the BIG3 for you is a charity element, that you do a lot of philanthropic work outside of the game. Can you tell me about that work that you've been doing and how the BIG3 plays into that?
RD: We've been doing stuff for the Ricky Davis Legacy Foundation the last few years now, just being able to catapult it with the BIG3. Helping others help themselves. It's a whole key for us and wherever we can lend a hand—feed the homeless, doing things that we do with the children, and the kids and single mothers. Anywhere we can help out, that's what we're here to do. I started it when I first started [in the NBA], my first year in Charlotte [in 1998]. I've just been giving back to communities and kids in need and just being that catapult, that platform to help kids get to that next level.
CU360: What else do you do outside of basketball? Are there any particular business endeavors you're involved in? Any other passions you pursue?
RD: Oh, of course. I've got my kids, of course. My oldest one goes to DeMatha High in D.C., so just putting a lot of time in with them. Definitely like to golf, fish, do that other stuff. Me and my wife started a CBD store there in Houston, so we're doing all kinds of stuff.
CU360: How'd you get involved in the CBD business?
RD: Just with the natural healing stuff. I'm all about natural remedies and natural healing and health stuff. So the CBD's been a good component with my aches and pains, and my different things that I've been going through. So I just wanted to help others with it.
Ricky was the No. 21 pick of the Charlotte Hornets in the 1998 NBA draft. (BIG3/Chapman Baehler)
CU360: What's your outlook for the summer? What are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish in the BIG3 this year?
RD: We're going to return that scoring title. Then we're trying to get the championship. We're going to pick up some good pieces that we need and go from there. I'm trying to stay healthy coming in and shoot for the stars.
CU360: What do you see in the big picture for the BIG3 this season?
RD: I see a huge growth every year. The guys we got this year, it's a gym full of guys just trying to make teams. So I think we can expand every year and just continue to build this league up.
CU360: It's only Year 3, but the league has come a long way. What does it mean to you to essentially have been a Day 1-type guy in a league that's really gaining popularity, both in the broader public and among professional basketball players?
RD: It's huge, just to be at the forefront of the league and be a good face of it from the starting point all the way until now, learning the league and teaching the guys all about it. I think it's a great place to play. We've just go to continue to work hard at it and continue to build it.
CU360: Do you see yourself as an ambassador for the BIG3 in that way?
RD: Yeah, definitely. Definitely love to be the ambassador and do ambassador stuff, going out and speaking with the BIG3, hooking up all the stuff for it with the foundation. It's good.
Check back on Thursday for our chat with NBA champion and BIG3 rookie Jason Terry.
Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.