Ice Cube’s BIG3, a 3-on-3 basketball league that features former NBA and other pro players, is back for a third straight summer, this time beefed up with several new expansion teams and a strong crop of first-time talent, many of whom should be well known to hoops fans.
Former Iowa State standout and former lottery pick Royce White went No. 1 overall to Enemies in the BIG3 Draft which was held in late April, and all 12 rosters are now fixed as the teams prepare for the season to commence on Saturday, Jun. 22 in Detroit.
New additions to the league include Gilbert Arenas (Enemies), Lamar Odom (Enemies), Josh Smith (Bivouac), Joe Johnson (Triplets), Jason Richardson (Tri-State) and Shannon Brown (Aliens).
Aside from adding former NBA All-Star talents such as Arenas and Johnson, the league will also be working with CBS and CBS Sports as a broadcasting partner. Games will be aired live every Saturday and Sunday all summer long.
Ever since the league’s inception, Ice Cube, and his team have continued to take steps to legitimize the BIG3 as an attractive option for pros looking to either extend or rejuvenate their careers.
Stars such as Arenas, Odom and Johnson paired with other magnetic names that have already participated in the league such as Nate Robinson, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and Stephen Jackson will only heighten it’s allure until it secures that megastar they thought they might’ve had in Allen Iverson during its opening summer campaign.
Names such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony (when he decides to call it quits from the NBA), are examples of players that would only help the league swell in popularity.
Iverson’s name was able to fetch a considerable amount of attention from the public when he was announced as a participant in the opening season, but we all know how that went.
Imagine having former NBA MVP caliber players that actually show up to participate and last the duration of the season.
Arenas, Odom, Johnson, Stoudemire will still make for the BIG3 enjoyable watch and should provide fans with some fun and memorable moments, but the aforementioned names would power the league to a new dimension in terms of popularity and marketability.
Still, Ice Cube and his team are validating the BIG3 in a proper way, and the gradual steps they’ve taken in their first three years may set the stage for a more sizable leap in talent, revenue, and popularity in the very near future.
There are all the makings for sustained success here: Growing interesting amongst players and fans alike, rigid competition (which we’ve seen escalate to intense trash-talk and sometimes even skirmishes), and the fact that it quenches our collective hoops thirsts as we trudge through the dog days of summer.
After the free agency dust settles and the NBA Summer League concludes, we often become starved for hoops, sifting through YouTube highlights and or watching old games from previous seasons to keep us sane.
The BIG3 offers a family-fun alternative to those practices. It’s difficult not to get your offseason basketball fix from a league that features so many of our former NBA heroes still out there giving it their all.
With more teams and a deeper pool of talent, expect to see an uptick in competitiveness. The league changed it’s age limit to 27, allowing for relative youngsters such as former Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Perry Jones III to participate.
We’ll see how spryer legs impact the league, especially considering the fact that players have extended layoffs in between games in hopes of maximizing effort and minimizing injury.
Last year we saw Power, led by the trio of Corey Maggette (who was also named MVP), Cuttino Mobley, Glen Davis along with Chris Andersen as a key reserve capture the championship over 3’s Company, which featured DerMarr Johnson, Drew Gooden, Baron Davis, and Jason Maxiell.
Check below for the full list of BIG3 rosters to see who you like to take this year’s crown, and check back for an update on the full schedule once it’s released.