The BIG3, set to kick off Sunday, June 25th at the Barclays Center, is a basketball league that figures to give nostalgic fans an opportunity to look back on fond memories of their basketball fandoms by featuring some of their favorite players. For the returning retirees, it's a chance to prove they actually have something left in the tank while re-creating that special bond between NBA players.
It's fitting that the summer session kicks off in the Big Apple given that former Knicks are sprinkled mightily across these rosters. Six teams of the eight feature at least one alumni who wore orange and blue during his NBA career, including the likes of Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington, Mike Bibby, and even player/coach Charles Oakley. The list goes on.
Jerome Williams is a highly favorable alum found amongst the ranks. Nicknamed "Junkyard Dog," for his style of play and knack for doing the dirty work on the hardwood, Williams ended his career with the Knicks in 2004-05.
"It's time to showcase what the players have been doing post-retirement. We get to put the shoes back on, which is exciting for me because I get to reunite with my dog pound," Williams told SNY.tv and TheKnicksBlog.com about his BIG3 participation. "The dog pound's been barking for a minute and I'm excited to get back in the locker room with my teammates and continue that legendary NBA camaraderie. That's what makes the league so great. It's a chance to show the young guys they have something to look forward to when they retire."
As for who he's looking forward to reuniting with, a couple of former Knicks teammates happen to top his list, including one he'll take the court with once again.
"Obviously my old college roommate Allen Iverson. He's a coach and drafted a couple of local (Washington D.C.) guys that I'm very familiar with. I'm looking forward to seeing Michael Sweetney (Williams' former 2004-05 Knicks teammate) and DeMarr Johnson (another former Knick)," he said.
"Moochie Norris, gosh. I grew up with him and we would ride the subways down in DC and hit the gym. He's my teammate again here on "Power," (a team co-captained by Corey Maggette and Cutting Mobley)," Williams said of his longtime friend. "Moochie was my teammate on the Knicks, so that type of thing is great. We all get to see each other and talk about our families, kids, and what we're doing now. Time to lace them up!"
Though he made his mark in the NBA as a complementary player, the now 44-year-old Williams says he's prepared to take a more prominent role in this new form of competition.
"In terms of showcasing other skills, you'll probably see a little bit more because it's half court and there are fewer players. You can't just be a rebounder like I was in the league. We had other players who had to get shots and carry us to victory. Now, I have to be one of those guys," he explained. "Looking forward to showing more of the skills that I had when I was in Georgetown with Allen Iverson. I played a lot of point guard back in the day. I have to brush up on my handles!"
Perhaps this chance to excite New York fans again, even if not at MSG, is an opportunity at redemption for the nine-year veteran. Though his Knicks went 33-49 back in 2004-05, Williams always felt the love.
"It's a fine story to have ended my career in New York, and then to reignite it back here with the BIG3. I'm blessed to participate in this and I'm looking forward to hearing the dogs barking like they did in The Garden. The fans appreciated you, win or lose, as long as you played hard. It was a great city and I had a great time doing it," he gushed.