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Terry Murphy, legendary figure in 3-on-3 basketball, passes away

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Murphy founded Hoop-It-Up.

2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival - Day 2 Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

I didn’t know who Terry Murphy was until recently. Unfortunately, when his name was brought to my attention it was due to his passing, at age 77. Murphy, it turns out, was quite the character. He was a businessman, publisher, and, in an odd twist of fate, one of the most impactful figures in basketball, not just in Dallas but across the globe.

In 1986, Murphy founded a three-on-three basketball tournament in Dallas called Hoop-D-Do. It was based, largely, on the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Tournament from Michigan. The inaugural Hoop-D-Do tournament, held in Dallas’ West End, drew 481 teams to compete in the downtown district. That was just the beginning, though.

In a few years’ time, Hoop-D-Do would become Hoop-It-Up and spread nationwide. Teams were then signing up to compete in the tournament in the 1000s. Eventually, Hoop-It-Up became so popular that the NBA and NBC became partners, further spreading its reach and appeal.

Today, three-on-three basketball is perhaps at its height in popularity. Hoop-It-Up still going strong and the newly-formed BIG3 is drawing crowds across the country. In 2020, three-on-three will become an Olympic sport for the first time, thanks, in no small part, to the vision Murphy had back in 1986.

“That's really sad,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said via e-mail about Murphy’s passing. “Terry is a legend in Dallas and I’m sure he would have been thrilled to have seen 3 on 3 become an Olympic sport. Our best to his entire family from all of us at the Mavs.”

For more on Murphy and the Hoop-It-Up empire he created, check out this profile of him in D Magazine from 1992. It’s well worth your time.

Editor’s Note: Mark Cuban’s comments were edited for clarity.