The BIG3 will host its inaugural championship round on August 26th in Las Vegas. A plethora of former Knicks have been featured this summer, as the “Trilogy” squad will make a run at the top prize featuring Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington, and James White. Still, not quite anyone has attracted more headlines than Charles Oakley. The longtime Knick and highly celebrated fan-favorite reached a plea deal earlier this month, following his MSG altercation with owner James Dolan. Just more than one week later, the fiery big man turned BIG3 coach hit the court for a rare 8 minute performance to awe fans in Los Angeles.
“For him to go out there at 53 years old, that’s just a testament to this league and what it means to give the fans an experience they haven’t had. I think they’ve been longing for it,” former NBA player Maurice Evans, who has played for Oakley’s “Killer 3’s” told KnicksJournal.com.
Evans insisted there’s so much more than meets the eye with Oakley. “He’s misunderstood. He’s taken responsibility, but I think when you’ve been burned by the media or others, that causes you to close yourself off,” the guard explained. “He’s been selective, but I’ve been blessed to get to know him on a different level as our BIG3 coach. We see more of the vulnerable in him He’s been a welcomed addition to this league and he’s a great guy.”
As far as Knicks fans are concerned, Evans said they should know “It’s been great to play for and get to know [Oakley]. He brings that competitive energy and intimidation factor. Oakley bleeds Knicks blood. He brings that New York toughness to everything he does.”
Evans has enjoyed his summer playing in the BIG3. He praised the half court format and said the league gave former players like himself an opportunity to strut their stuff in front of their children, who may have been too young to recall the NBA glory days.
“There were so many familiar faces: Chauncey Billups, Mike Bibby, Kwame Brown, Rashard Lewis. So many of my former teammates. I grew up with guys like Dion Glover and Larry Hughes. I’m around legends like Dr. J and Ice Cube. I could go on and on,” he said. “The camaraderie is back and this league is really catered for many of us at this phase in our lives. There’s so much of a grind that goes into playing night in and night out. The BIG3 allows us to compete and perform at a high level. We can showcase our skills and the fans have been amazing.”
Evans enjoyed a playing career that lasted over a decade, serving as a sharpshooting guard off the bench for many teams. It was his high maturity level and ability to keep everything in prospective that made him a great veteran teammate, not only on the court, but off of it, too. He immersed himself in many intellectual and business matters, rising up as the Vice President of the National Basketball Player’s Association for many years. He went back to complete his college degree during his career and has since started a full-service sports and entertainment company called, “E.L.O.S.”
“My education was important. My parents made sacrifices and my high school & university coaches supported me, so I really wanted to keep my commitment to them. I wanted to show my children that our brands are worth investing in,” he explained. “It’s more than just my sports brand. I started my own business in October. I always say, I was a businessman playing basketball.”
Relationship building has always been key for Evans. He was quick to praise the Knicks’ hire of new General Manager Scott Perry. The two got to know one another during Evans’ lone season with Detroit Pistons in 2005-06.
“[Support staffs] are so often overlooked: the player development, the directors of player personnel, and all the people that work behind the scenes. That’s something that gave the Pistons such a competitive edge,” he said in highlighting Perry’s presence.
Evans said New York had “great building pieces” and needed someone to lead the charge to get them back to the prominent level people around the NBA were used to. After watching Perry have an impact as Director of Player Personnel in Detroit, he believes the executive could easily serve as that guy for the Knicks.
“I was really excited for Scott and reached out. We had just seen each out a while back in Detroit for Richard Hamilton’s [jersey] retirement ceremony,” Evans said. “Scott’s someone who worked really hard and put in the time to acquire the necessary skills and experience. I think he’s going to bring a lot of value to the Knicks.”