To close out the 2021 regular season, the Brand Jordan 50 and Over League held their 12th Annual Championship game on Sunday, July 25, on Chicago’s South Side.
The event was held during the grand opening of the newly launched Bishop Shepard Little Memorial Center, located at 5230 S. Halsted St., and was hosted by Tony McCoy, Founder and CEO of the Sports Factory Foundation.
“SportsFactory 40 and Over League started twelve years ago as a way to engage former athletes and serious amateur players who have turned 40,” said McCoy in a statement. “As a former basketball player, [I understand] that just because someone turns 40 the love for the game does not stop.”
McCoy said his idea of developing a competitive summer league drew a large interest from the start since its early days of conception. He stated that a lot of players who play in the league are former Chicago high school hoops legends, D1 college guys, and former professional players who have graced the courts across the globe and as well as the NBA (with a few of whom can brag that they have a championship ring or two to display).
He also said that the quality of the league, along with its family focused environment, caught the eye of NBA great Michael Jordan. Jordan’s Brand Jordan has been the league sponsor and supporter for the last decade.
“As the players aged, the league evolved and has since expanded into 40& Over and 50& Over leagues, with a 60& Over component being in the works,” said McCoy in a statement. “Just like the rest of the world, the league was put on pause during the summer of 2020 and as the world worked on recovering from the worldwide pandemic, [we] focused on ensuring that the league returned to its South Side roots.”
McCoy said in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of his league has remained the same. He stated that the league provides an engaging and competitive playing environment that allows families to have access to the venue and events.
McCoy also said that the league is just one of the ways that the SportsFactory Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by McCoy, supports South Side communities.
And with both the 40 and Over League and the 50 and Over League on the rise, McCoy said his SportsFactory Foundation also sponsors youth athletic and academic programs, summer camps, and skill development clinics.
“On the other side of the SportsFactory Foundation’s work is organizing special events for seniors as well as holiday food drives and giveaways,” McCoy said in a statement.
In addition to McCoy’s philanthropic efforts in the community, his championship game held on Sunday featured several all-time Chicago greats, such as former Chicago Bulls Randy Brown and Jeff Sanders; former Proviso East stand out Sherell Ford; and the three Chicago Crusader Players of The Game: Cedrick McCullough, who scored a team-high seven points in the fourth quarter; Quitman Dillard, who led his team in scoring in the first half; and Iowa State alum Paul Been, who closed out the game with five clutch free throws, which led his team to a 60-57 championship win.
“We didn’t have the 40 and 50 and Over League last year,” said McCullough. “It meant a lot to get it back on.”
“We came out the same year in the Class of 88,” said Dillard about him and his teammate McCullough’s scoring performance in Sunday’s championship game. “And we played off each other.”
“As the oldest person on the team at 59, I got to show poise at all times,” Been said about making his five clutch free throws down the stretch.
“I thought we were the best team in the tournament,” said former Bulls champion Brown, who led all players with at least six steals. “It was the first time we played together. Even though we are from the West Side, we put it together as the tournament went on.”
McCoy said the city of Chicago has provided so much for him, and he feels honored to be able to give back and create memorable, and at times life changing, experiences for others.
Honorable Mention: Tony McKenzie led the white team with the dominant performance finishing with a double-double of 27 points and ten rebounds. McKenzie said that he appreciates the 50 and Over League because it gives players the opportunity to live out their basketball dreams again.