DALLAS — Sometimes playing for the hometown team isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for professional athletes.
This is what I’ve learned from my time as a freelance sportswriter, that while most pro athletes love being able to play in their hometown and in front of friends and family for half the year, there are still others who feel that playing close to home is nothing but a huge distraction and something they want no part of whatsoever.
But Quincy Acy definitely doesn’t feel that way.
Acy, who celebrated his 26th birthday earlier this week, signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent this offseason. The versatile forward who grew up in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite and then attended Baylor, about 90 miles south of the Metroplex, can’t be happier about playing in Big D.
“Yeah, it’s a dream come true,” Acy said. “Any professional athlete would love the opportunity to play for the team that they grew up loving and representing. To be able to play in front of my friends and family on a nightly basis and for my childhood favorite team, that’s a blessing.”
The Mavs are his fourth different NBA employer since he was a second-round pick of the Toronto Raptors in the 2012 NBA Draft. Besides the Raptors, he has also had two stints with the Sacramento Kings, with whom he averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season, a campaign where he started a career-high 29 games.
Acy spent one season, 2014-15, with the New York Knicks. In the Big Apple, he set career-highs by averaging 5.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and one assist over 18.9 minutes per game, also a career high. He also played 68 games for the Knicks that season, another career standard.
As a player who has moved around the Association and who has also spent time in the D-League, he has played for several different head coaches and experienced the culture inside several different NBA organizations.
But Acy admits that nothing can compare with the vibe he felt immediately after signing with his hometown team just a few months ago. He has been especially impressed with the culture and the fact that the organization has a family feel to it.
“The culture is amazing. This is by far the best organization that I’ve been a part of, and I’m not just saying that with bias,” Acy said. “They take special care of the players, attention to details to make sure the player is able to perform at their highest potential, and I love that about them. He [Carlisle] gets mad if I don’t shoot shots. The weightlifting coaches make sure you take care of your body, always have recovery. It’s an amazing organization.”
Dallas signed Acy — a guy who can provide defense, rebounding and even some scoring off the bench — to help bolster its second unit. During his first four years in the league, he’s developed a well-earned reputation as a great “glue guy,” a player who doesn’t light up the stat sheet but still does plenty to help his teams win, contributions which of course don’t go unnoticed by both his teammates and coaches.
And that reputation as a guy who works his tail off each and every time he hits the floor for practice as well as in games is a big reason why those who follow and cover the Mavs feel he is the perfect kind of player for current Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle, a demanding coach who loves guys with a work ethic which doesn’t quit.
Hearing that he’s Carlisle’s kind of player is nothing short of the highest level of compliment for Acy.
“That makes me feel good, obviously. If your coach values what you bring and the fact that it’s not like scoring and all that, he just values effort,” Acy said.
“Yeah, I want to be that guy that they know is going to help win close games sometimes. I’m not going to go out there and give 20, give 30. We got guys for that, but some nights our superstars might not be hitting shots, but if I can give them an extra shot and get them going, that’s what I feed off of. I love the opportunity.”
Getting the chance to play for Carlisle, who is regarded as a top-five NBA head coach, was one reason he decided to return home and sign with the Mavs. That and the chance to play for the same team he grew up rooting for in Mesquite.
But even with the solid work he’s done in his first four years in the league, there is one thing noticeably missing from his NBA resume, playoff experience, which is something he hopes on getting in Dallas.
“I’ve played a lot of basketball and I’ve never been to the playoffs, so I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play for a great organization and a great coach. I want to get to the playoffs,” Acy said.
So after being happy just to be in the league and play wherever he could, Acy admits his career has now taken its next step, playing for the team he grew up cheering for, the Dallas Mavericks, where he’d always dreamed of playing.
However, he is not only happy to now be playing in Big D, he’s also thinking bigger picture when it comes to his future and how the rest of his career plays out.
“This city is where I’m from, so it’s my home. I want to make this my home for the rest of my career,” Acy said.