We caught up with the Big 3 Enemies’ Head Coach to talk about his team’s expectations for success.
After this weekend’s BIG3 action in Birmingham, Alabama, the Enemies squad is now 2-1 after their 51-35 win over Ghost Ballers.
Craig Smith, the former Boston College product and Inglewood, California native who played six seasons in the NBA for the Timberwolves, Clippers and Trail Blazers while averaging 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game during his NBA career, led the Enemies with 23 points and eight rebounds.
Gilbert Arenas added 12 points and five boards while Royce White chipped in with a steady eight points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Enemies head coach Rick Mahorn needs no introduction to those who’ve watched and studied basketball over the last 30 years or so.
Mahorn, a former NBA champion and now a popular radio analyst for the Detroit Pistons, played 18 years in the NBA. He remains one of the most popular athletes in Motown’s history thanks to his tenure with the”Bad Boys” teams of the late ’80s.
In the inaugural season of the BIG3, Mahorn lead Trilogy to a perfect 10-0 record as it’s head coach and the first ever league title. Now, he’s running things as the coach of expansion team Enemies.
We caught up with Mahorn to talk about this year’s BIG3, as well as other tidbits from his basketball life.
The Shadow League: Now that the BIG3 is in its third season, what excites you about the league?
Rick Mahorn: Now we have more teams, which has allowed us to attract and tap into a deeper talent pool. We’ve got guys like Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Will Bynum, Gilbert Arenas and other excellent former pros who still have some game left.
What do you like coaching 3-on-3 and being involved in this venture?
We all grew up playing 3-on-3, and having guys shoot four-point shots is exciting because of the way the league has taken off with with guys like Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who can still really score the ball. Being that I previously coached Trilogy, I really enjoyed it because we went undefeated and won the BIG3’s first championship. Coming from that, I want to win some more.
Talk about this new team that you’re coaching, Enemies, and the new challenge this year.
I was intrigued when we got guys like Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, Royce White and others. You want to see how those guys get acclimated. And I’m super excited that we added another female coach in Lisa Leslie, one of the greatest, male or female, to play the game.
Let’s step out of the BIG3 for a minute and talk about your journey. When did you have the vision that basketball could provide such a long career for you, both as a player and beyond? Did you know when you were a student at Hampton University that you’d be able to sustain such a long run in pro ball?
It simply evolved organically. There’s an expiration date on your body when you’re playing in the NBA. I was fortunate to play for a lot of years and that eventually opened up some doors and coaching opportunities for me in the NBA and the WNBA. It also opened up doors for me as far as working in broadcasting and on the community relations side, in addition to traveling around the world to teach the game.
So everything happened for me organically, coming from a small Black college. Basketball paid for my schooling and allowed me to make a great living.
It’s 2019, which means we’re 30 years removed from the Bad Boy Pistons. When you think about those times and the guys that you’re mentoring now, how open are they to accepting the knowledge that you have to give them?
Most players are students of the game and want to learn more. Some guys may eventually want to scout or become involved in decision-making and management at some point, so those guys are very receptive to absorbing as much as they can.
Did you fully grasp the potential of the BIG3 when the idea was initially presented to you?
It wasn’t that I didn’t see the potential right away, but I knew there was a place for the BIG3 because all over the world they have 3-on-3 league’s. It was already popular, but now it’s taking off here in America at the pro level.
As a head coach, you won the initial BIG3 championship. The growth from year one to year two was exceptional. What are you guys looking forward to now in terms of the next steps for the league?
This third season, as we’ve expanded with four new teams, there’s gonna be more hunger. The competition is very good and keeps increasing. And with CBS coming on as a broadcast partner, we’ll continue to be more visible and let people see how good this league really is.
As a quick aside, I was in college in the early ’90s when you played for the Sixers. One of my biggest regrets was not swinging out to Cherry Hill to hit up your club Mahorn’s. Heard that spot was off the hook!
Man, you missed out. My nightclub was all that! I had a great time during those few years in Philly and we had the hottest club around. Fun times.
Last year, we were in the building at Barclays for the championship and the atmosphere in the arena was much doper than I had anticipated.
The BIG3 is all about family. We’ve got guys, legends, like Dr. J and George Gervin coaching and walking around. People get a chance to get up close and see some of their basketball idols. The players might not be in the NBA anymore, but they’re still very skilled and there’s an elite level of physicality going on out there. I was disappointed with how my team finished last year and I just wanna win, baby. My thing is, if we’re gonna play, we might as well win.