The stage was set Saturday evening at Whitney Young high school as the final 4 teams battled for the right to play for the 2015 Nike Chi League title on Sunday.  Wright Sports squared off against DreamTeam and the defending champs, Code Black took on Meanstreets.  NBA legends Tim Hardaway and Scottie Pippen were in the building along with former Bulls players Randy Brown (Bulls asst. coach) and Pete Myers.  The house was at capacity and the fans were in for some vintage, tough, hard-nosed Chicago pro am basketball. (FYI-I commend the fans that stayed through both games Saturday and the final on Sunday…it was hotter than fish grease in there!) Check the final 4 recap below:

Saturday August 15th

Vance Cooksey came out and set the tome for Wright Sports and they never looked back as they defeated DreamTeam 84-81.  Vance finished with 21 pts 7 rebs and 6 ast as he outplayed San Antonio Spurs rookie Kiefer Sykes in the individual point guard matchup.  Billy Baptist contributed 11 pts and 11 rebs and played stellar defense on former Crane star Will Bynum. (Will told me he was going back to China to play professionally this year.)  Big Deji Akindele (18 pts 6 rebs) and Isiah “Birdman” Martin (9 pts 6 blks) held down the paint as Wright Sports advanced to the final game. DreamTeam had 5 NBA players-Wright Sports had 0. Hard work, stability and togetherness beat talent!

Tony Bennett (31 pts 8 reb and 5 ast), Othyus Jeffers (26 pts 11 rebs) and Maurice Bolden (15 pts 10 rebs) proved to be too much as Code Black cruised to a 94-83 win over Meanstreets.  The win put Code Black in the championship game as they looked to repeat.  SOUTHSIDE (Wright Sports) versus WESTSIDE (Code Black)…One of these two teams would have bragging right until next year!

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Sunday  Aug 16th – Nike Chi-League Championship Game: SOUTHSIDE (Wright Sports) vs WESTSIDE (Code Black)

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Chicago Bulls legend and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen with the 2015 Nike Chi-League Champs, Wright Sports (Q)

After the first 3-4 minutes of the game, I looked at my colleagues Terrence Tomlin and Quentin Nichols and uttered, “this one might get ugly!” Ugly couldn’t even describe the scene as Wright Sports played the perfect team game and had everything go their way in a 79-48 blowout win versus Code Black.  Billy Baptist (our 2015 Defender/Stay Humble/The BIGS MVP) had another top notch performance as he chased last years MVP Tony Bennett 94 feet, kept him off of the free throw line and made him work for his 11 points.  He also scored 13 pts and grabbed 9 rebounds and left it all on the floor. Paul MacPherson played great defense and limited Othyus Jeffers points in the paint. Deji, “Birdman” and Demond Watt sewed up the middle and Vance Cooksey did what he does best, run the team like a championship PG.

Billy Baptist had this to say on facing Tony Bennett in the finals “Every tournament I play in I usually have to play against TB in the finals so this time was no different…I’m always ready.”

2015 Chicago Defender/Stay Humble/The BIGS MVP recipient, Billy Baptist(middle) with The BIGS. Eugene McIntosh(right) and Terrence Tomlin(left)

2015 Chicago Defender/Stay Humble/The BIGS MVP recipient, Billy Baptist(middle) with The BIGS- Eugene McIntosh(right) and Terrence Tomlin(left) (Q)

….and showed his humble side when asked how it feels to be named MVP “Man it’s always an honor to be MVP of a game. I just give credit to God and my teammates for helping me get where I am.”

Baptist also had this to say about representing the SOUTHSIDE-“The southside came up and stood together today and we came in here and beat the westside on the westside so thats always a good thing. We actually better go ahead and get outta here!  Aye man…we gotta repeat!”

I want to give a huge shoutout to Shawn Wright aka “Trashman” (for those that know) for leading his squad to a second Chi League championship. He stuck to his script and kept the team in tact and kept believing when things weren’t looking so good early on.

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Wright Sports Head Coach Shawn Wright and Assistant Coach Smitty with the 2015 Nike Chi-League Championship trophy (Q)

“It feels real good man.  We had a real rough start this summer. A lot of the off court issues, but as a team, I never doubted these guys. I told them we’ll be playing on the last night of the tournament and I meant it.” said Wright. ” I know the character of these guys. We’ve been together more than 6 years. Billy Baptist, Paul MacPherson, Isiah, Deji, (Vance). I was gonna save him for last because this is truly his team. We were looking all summer to add some help for him.”

I also want to let the “Bench Mob” know that their work didn’t go unnoticed. Players like Zeke Upshaw, “MG” Malcolm Griffin, Demond Watt, Rob Broughton, DeShawn Wright & Brandon Price definitely contributed major roles throughout the season. Everything that involves winning a championship isn’t on the stat sheet so a big salute to them for always being ready when Trash called their number.

For Code Black, Tony Bennett (4-20), Othyus Jeffers (4-13) and Ken Caston (3-10) shot a combined 11-43 from the field (26%) and 2-14 (14%) from 3 pt range.  The team shot a season worst 27% from the field and 11% from 3.  It wasn’t the way they visioned going out but they had a good season and will come back strong for sure next year. S/O Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway for suiting up with Code Black and giving the fans a bit of a treat for the last two weeks of the tournament.

The 2015 Nike Chi League was a success and we look forward to making it bigger and better for next year. I understand contracts and GM’s/coaches not wanting their players to play but we need more of our home grown NBA talent to play! Big thanks to Lisa Beachy, everyone involved at Nike and Game Seven Marketing for the hospitality. Be on the lookout for our coverage of all things Chicago Sports!

#TheDefender #TheBIGS

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