If you have seen Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Quincy Acy dunk a basketball, you have seen the type of aggressive nature he brings to the game. And when that happens, it lifts everyone on his side; his teammates, coaching staff and fans. When you learn more about Acy, you discover that lifting people is a core principle that he believes in.
"Everybody can’t be a superstar so you gotta be a superstar in your own right," is a line that defines Acy’s approach. "I've never been a star player. I've been on minimum contracts my whole career. I think what you'll be remembered for is how you treat people, so that's the biggest thing."
Perhaps the story that best represents his charitable nature is from early in 2017, in the middle of his fifth season in the NBA. "I started that year with the Mavericks and I got cut," Acy explained. "It was a salary kind of thing. I think we had three point guards who got hurt and they had to sign a point guard, so I kind of got the short end of the stick."
"I think what you'll be remembered for is how you treat people."
Suddenly without a team, Acy, who grew up in a suburb of Dallas, signed with the local D-League side, the Texas Legends.
"I went down there and they took me in with open arms," Acy recalled. "I came in the middle of their season, while they're playing for something. They kind of threw me in there and some guys in that situation might kind of think it's about them, but I was in the business of helping the team and helping those players."
Acy indeed helped his new team. He averaged 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.1 blocks over 12 games. And then, after only a few weeks with Texas, the Brooklyn Nets offered him a contract in the NBA worth multiples of his salary in the D-League. Naturally, Acy signed on the dotted line and headed to Brooklyn. But first, he left his Texas teammates and coaching staff with parting gifts.
“The D-league grind is nothing like people kind of know," Acy said. "I knew that those guys were putting in just as much work as I was. So I saw their situation and I kind of benefited, so I wanted to help them."
Acy left all of his teammates with $250 gift cards and he purchased shoes for members of the staff. Two parts of this story are amazing. First is the generous act itself. Second is the fact that Acy did not publicize it. Details of Acy’s gestures only reached the press nearly a month later when the Texas coach, Bob MacKinnon, spoke to Sam Amick of USA Today about Acy.
"That was my call. I said I want to do something nice for them," Acy said recently. "I had a nice relationship with those guys when I was there. We ate dinner together. We traveled bus rides for hours and hours through states and states and stayed together. They all congratulated me when I made it, I built a brotherhood, a good relationship with those guys. I just wanted to give back."
Giving back is something that Acy was doing long before and has continued doing ever since. He credits his mother, a retired school teacher, for his generous spirit: "She's always been in the business of helping people. That's kind of what she instilled in us at a very young age: always help, give the shirt off your back if you can."
From the time Acy became a professional basketball player, he made it a point to give back. He started the Quincy Acy Foundation and every summer hosts a free basketball camp at his old school, John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas.
"We invite over 200 kids and we give them free basketball shirts, backpacks and let ‘em have fun for a day learning and being around pros," Acy said. "You don't want to be serious, because an organization can kind of be intimidating for kids if they don't really know about it, especially when you're dealing with inner-city kids. So it's in the business of helping, but also for them to have more fun."
"Always help, give the shirt off your back if you can."
Of course in the meantime, Acy is a basketball player first and foremost and his current goal is to keep Maccabi near the top of the standings and on the path to the playoffs.
"My main thing is to play hard in every game that I step on the court, so that's kind of what my approach is," he said. "I just gotta take it one game at a time."
That approach has not only allowed Acy to fit in right away in Tel Aviv, but has helped put the Israeli champs on pace for their best season since 2014, when the club captured the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague crown. Team-first players with generous spirit are exactly the recipe needed to make a run at another title and if Maccabi can do so, there is no question that Acy's fingerprints will be seen clearly on the trophy.