On Wednesday (Jan. 11), Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz teamed up to announce their new 3-on-3 basketball league titled the BIG3 at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York City.
"It sucks to see your favorite players retire. There's nothing good about it, especially when you know they still got game," Cube said during the press conference. “My father always told me if you don't think big, you will always be small. So, we came up with a big idea. It was to bring a style of basketball that I grew up playing, watching, and loving, which is 3-on-3 basketball.”
Set to begin June 24, the BIG3 will team up with retired NBA players itching for an opportunity to suit up and play the game they grew up loving. A draft will commence in March to fill out the teams in lieu of their opening season tip-off. There will be eight teams comprised of five players each. The season will total up to 10 weeks, with the last two serving as playoff time.
For the actual games, the first team to score 60 points will be announced the winner. So far, the league has rounded up a bevy of former NBA talent, including former MVP Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, Rashard Lewis, Chauncey Billups, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, Bonzi Wells and more.
"It was just an opportunity to do something different," said former New Jersey Nets All-Star Kenyon Martin, who serves as the league's first signee. "It's something innovative. To start from the ground up and be a part of it [is special]. Not a lot of guys can say they're the first to do something."
Former two-time NBA All-Star Rashard Lewis relishes the idea of reliving his childhood days playing 3-on-3 basketball with his friends and family. "When Ice Cube and Roger Mason Jr. reached out to me talking about a 3-on-3 league, you know the first thing I thought about was [the] Hoop It Up [league] and how much fun it was,” he told Billboard. “A lot of kids loved it. Not only that, you know, growing up, you don't jump right into 5-on-5 basketball. You go to the backyard and play with your friends 2-on-2, 3-on-3, or however many you have out there."
In 2014, Lewis’ career was derailed after a failed physical showed that his right knee required surgery. For him and many other players, they’ll get the much-needed rest they deserve considering the season will only require them to play once a week on Saturdays. “I think it’s a great concept and it's half-court too. So, it won't be a lot of wear-and-tear and there's time for recovery,” Lewis says.
The biggest chip the BIG3 offers comes from newly named Hall of Famer and perennial All-Star Allen Iverson. "I’m just happy to be a part of it. I just hope little kids just get a chance to embrace it and love it for what it is. This isn’t going to be the only time we do it. It’s gonna go on, and on, and on. It’s gonna be a part of our culture. I just love the fact that I can be a part of it,” Iverson said to the press.
Not only will fans get to watch their former favorite players grace a basketball court again in 10 different cities, but they might also be able to enjoy a festive halftime show from the legendary Ice Cube.
“Maybe,” Cube told Billboard after being asked if he would consider performing during the halftime show for several games this season. “It matters if I’m feeling it, but I don’t want this league to be about me. I’ll do everything I can to promote the league, to get it on its feet, and get it rolling. I just wanna stay to the back and let these guys do what they do best. I’m just here to provide a stage.”
With the NBA losing Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett to retirement at the start of the season, Cube is hoping that his league can nab one more basketball legend, just so he can watch the Black Mamba's greatness take center stage.
“I was the ultimate Kobe fan from day one, when he was coming off the bench for [former Lakers coach] Del Harris," said Cube. "[Him playing for the BIG3] would take our league to the next level, just like how A.I. [Allen Iverson] takes our league to another level."
He adds, "I would love Vince Carter and the guys that are about to get out, Paul Pierce, T-Mac [Tracy McGrady] to look at us as a viable option to continue to have that stage because these dudes are not commentators -- they’re basketball players. Let’s get them back on the court."