The summer is usually a quiet time for sports, but this year was different, with the introduction of the BIG3 Basketball League. The BIG3 is a new 3-on-3 basketball league featuring former NBA players, including many all-stars. The organization was founded and promoted by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, and is managed by Roger Mason Jr. and Amy Trask. One of the best things about the league is the talent from both the coaches and players. If you are a basketball fan of the 2000s, you’ll get to see many of your favorite players compete, including Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, Rashard Lewis, Kenyon Martin, Mike Bibby, Jason Williams, Jermaine O’Neal and Bonzi Wells.
Make sure you check out the BIG3 Finals on Saturday, August 26th between Trilogy and the Three-Headed Monsters on FOX and FS1.
FanWide has been fortunate to work with the BIG3 by promoting the league and fan events in Chicago and Seattle. I was able to attend their opening event in Brooklyn to see these former stars play their ‘rookie’ games, and I spoke with several of the coaches, including NBA legends Rick Barry and George Gervin, about the challenges of transitioning to a new league. While the basketball fundamentals remain the same, the teams each use three players on the half-court, play up to 50 points, there is only one free-throw after every foul (worth one to four points), and there is even a four-point shot.
The first event had its challenges, including running several hours long (the games were originally up to 60) and poor decision-making by the players. However, after watching an exciting semi-finals this weekend from Seattle, it is great to see how the league has evolved to extremely high-quality play. This is likely due to the legendary coaches of each team – Rick Barry, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, George Gervin, Julius Erving, Rick Mahorn, Clyde Drexler and Charles Oakley.
These coaches were also ‘rookies’ in this new league, and it was insightful hearing their comments while watching the other teams play. In one of the earlier games I sat with Rick Barry, and you could see how he was learning as the game progressed. For example, towards the end of one game, a player was beaten off the dribble, then deliberately fouled the player on the other team. With traditional NBA rules, this would have been two free throws and the fouling team would get the ball back, so the only penalty is the extra foul while being able to stop the clock. In the BIG3, the team that is fouled gets the ball back, so this was a foolish penalty since they gave up two points, gave the ball back, and could still not control the clock. Rick got it right.
It looks like the popularity of 3-on-3 hoops will continue to grow, especially in the United States which currently ranked ninth in the world according to FIBA. It was recently made into an Olympic sport, and is already very popular in Europe, with the world’s top teams coming from Serbia, Russia and Slovenia. The BIG3 has slightly different rules and the league is running in a tournament format, with the winning teams sharing a majority of the prize money. Rewarding players for performance, with every player getting the same base salary, provides a clear incentive to win – and watching this league evolve over the summer shows that it will be a winner too. Make sure you use FanWide to find the closest BIG3 event near you!