Ice Cube, the BIG3, and the Next Chapter of Basketball

September 13, 2019

When we think of American Sports Organizations, we usually think of the major leagues, such as the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS.  Then we have college athletics that are taking place all over the nation, but not without scrutiny.  Aside from that, a lot of leagues fail to take off and are usually disbanded within the first couple of years.  One recent example is the Alliance of American Football, which ceased operation mid-way through their first season.  The XFL was another flash in the pan, although it's set to make a comeback in 2020.  Because of all the attention given to these major organizations, it's extremely tough and rare for another league to break out and make an impact in the sports world.

 

That's where the BIG3 is different.

 

Founded by O'Shea Jackson, or better known as Ice Cube in 2017, the BIG3 is compromised of former NBA and NCAA Basketball players, some retired, some looking for a second chance, and some just there for the love of basketball.  It's extremely different from the NBA; games are played on a half-court instead of full, it's 3-on-3 instead of the traditional 5-on-5, and the game is set up for a quicker pace, as the shot clock is only 14 seconds long and the game ends once a team reaches 50 points (and winning by 2 or more).  There's so many additional, intriguing parts of the game, including the four-point zones that are 30 feet away from the hoop and the four-point shootout to determine who is the home team.  It's a league that much more suitable for older basketball players, and most players in the league are on the wrong side of 30, which is perfect. The season only lasts about two months as well, so players don't have to worry about the wear and tear of the eight-month NBA season. There are some former star NBA players in the league, including Amar'e Stoudemire, Stephen Jackson, and Gilbert Arenas, as well as players whose careers were cut short including Greg Oden, Josh Childress, and Perry Jones III. Even the coaches are high-profile and well-known as they include names like Julius Erving, Rick Barry, George Gervin, and Lisa Leslie among other legends and hall of famers. 

 

The BIG3 just completed their third season, in which this season was the most successful.  The league expanded from 8 to 12 teams, and earned a new television deal with CBS Sports Network to broadcast six games a week, with three games on two separate days.  They also made a deal with Adidas for their gear, which includes jerseys, shorts, shoes and other apparel. This year, former NBA Star Joe Johnson dominated the league, leading the league with 21.9 PPG and 3.9 assists, winning the MVP award and leading his "Triplets" team to the BIG3 championship, in which he hit the game-winning three-pointer.  Johnson played so well that NBA scouts began attending BIG3 games, and Johnson ended up signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.  He probably won't receive much of a workload in Detroit, but he'll likely be an important bench piece on a team that's trying to assert themselves as playoff contenders. Nonetheless, Johnson's contract is so important to the league, as he proved that the BIG3 was a viable option for veterans to get back into the NBA.  

 

Year after year, the BIG3 has received more attention from basketball fans, and this year celebrities like LeBron James, Snoop Dogg, and Dwyane Wade were spotted at games.  This league has quickly reached a national platform, and has even gotten the attention of NBA scouts, which is great news for players trying to get back into the league. The BIG3 even makes an impact off the court, as their "Young3" clinic follows the BIG3 in whatever city they are in, and they provide basketball clinic and reconstruction to basketball courts in select cities.  They're making an impact in many kids' lives, like the "NBA Cares" organization does, adding to the influence that this organization has on basketball.

 

The 3-on-3 pick-up games have always been a staple in streetball games and pick-up courts worldwide, and Ice Cube has taken shortened version of basketball and turned it into a very successful league that everyone can enjoy, for an inexpensive price.  In just three years, he's had numerous amounts of stars agree to come back and play ball, he's helped players make it back to the NBA once again, and he's helped countless amounts of younger kids and families off the court and in the community.  It's an extremely impressive feat, and he deserves a ton of credit for the success of this league.  This has the backing and the potential to be a legitimate league for a long time, and it wouldn't be a surprise if more NBA players continued to play in the BIG3 once their NBA careers are over, or as a way to slow their career down.  The BIG3 has amassed so many expectations in just three years, and they have no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

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