• June 16, 2019

JUNETEENTH: Danny R. Wright Basketball Tournament set to begin - Odessa American: Sports

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JUNETEENTH: Danny R. Wright Basketball Tournament set to begin

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2019 5:17 pm

What started out as a small idea at the Woodson Park Boys and Girls Club nearly four decades ago has turned into a community staple in the Permian Basin.

That’s how longtime Odessa resident Danny R. Wright views the basketball tournament that is part of the city-wide Juneteenth celebration.

Wright is proud of how the competition has grown.

“I’ve been a part of this for 39 years,” Wright said. “It’s changed a lot but it’s always a tremendous time.”

The Danny R. Wright Juneteenth Basketball Tournament gets underway today at the Odessa College Sports Center. The championship game will be played Saturday.

There have been a number of local celebrities and former area athletes to play in the tournament, including former NBA All-Star Larry Johnson and former NFL wide receiver Roy Williams.

In Wright’s mind, having the tournament goes beyond going up against each other on the hardwood.

“It’s a homecoming,” Wright said. “It’s a chance for a lot of guys to come back and see everyone. The tournament is part of it but people want to come back and celebrate Juneteenth.”

With the tournament going on as long of a run as it has, Wright has also seen the event grow from one generation to the next.

“We get a chance to see the young guys grow,” he said. “A lot of the kids that play in the tournament now had their fathers play in it before.”

Adding to the family aspect of the celebration is something that Jo Ann Davenport Littleton is always looking to do. The community activist who currently sits on the board of directors of the Black Cultural Council of Odessa says that the tournament has taken on a signature of its own.

“The basketball tournament is always a big hit,” Littleton said. “It’s something that a lot of people look forward to every year.”

“It’ something we’ve always wanted since we work with Mrs. Littleton and the BCCO,” Wright said. “The celebration became an amenity of the tournament and you come back and see what you have.”

But even as the tournament continues to grow, Wright thought that this would be the year the tournament would go back to where it all began.

The Age 35 and Older Legends Basketball Tournament takes place Sunday, Father’s Day, back at the Woodson Boys and Girls Club.

This will be the third year of the tournament, established in large part thanks to the success of the first tournament.

Wright says it’s been around 15 years since the Boys and Girls Club hosted the tournament but he believed it was important to recognize and remember the journey that the event has taken on.

“It adds a little flavor to the atmosphere,” Wright said. “We want to try and go back to our roots so to speak.”

He acknowledges that the pace of play may be different from the regular tournament. That being said, he does it because he enjoys what it means for the community.

“Most of the guys that played in the first tournament get a chance to compete in the Legends Tournament,” Wright said. “It’s a way to have fun and also gives us a chance to put fathers on a pedestal on Father’s Day. It’s a wonderful thing to see them play.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

Odessa, TX

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