You may know Ice Cube as a rapper, actor, songwriter, producer and film-maker, but he’s also a diehard basketball fan. Always has been. The 47-year-old has watched the NBA religiously since his youth, and if all goes to according to plan, his new venture – BIG3 – will be immensely popular among basketball junkies.
BIG3 is a three-on-three, half-court summer basketball league featuring former NBA players, including Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin.
“We’re going to give anybody who wants to come to our Combine the opportunity to show what they still got,” Ice Cube said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We want games; we just don’t want names. Guys will be able to show what they still got, and if the other guys pick them to be on their squad, hey, you’ll be on the squad.”
The season begins June 24, with teams touring nationwide for 10 weeks. Ice Cube has been working on this concept for over a year.
“It just came to me as a fan,” he said. “I’m just sick of seeing my guys retire, starting with Dr. J and it went to Kareem Adbul-Jabbar. It went to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe. I’m like, some of these guys are retiring too early. I was like, ‘Let’s figure out something where we take out the wear and tear. These guys are just retiring because they can’t handle that NBA schedule no more.’”
So instead of playing 82 full-court games over seven or eight months, players will play half-court games for 10 weeks.
“Hey, 3-on-3 basketball is an American tradition,” Ice Cube said. “Everybody plays that. There’s a lot of amateur 3-on-3 tournaments, but where is the professional league? We was like, ‘Yo, let’s create the stage.’ So that’s how the BIG3 got started We started working on rules and the teams and revenue sharing and all this kind of business stuff that makes it like, ‘Yo, this is a great opportunity for guys to still get on the court and compete.'”
The league will feature a four-point shot, but the other rules are fairly standard.
“We don’t really want to go whacky,” Ice Cube said. “In 3-on-3, you clear the ball once. With a defensive rebound, if it hits the rim and you grab it, you got to clear the ball past the three-point line. That’s essentially our way for offense to change to defense and defense to change to offense. It’s a great way to get set, get back on defense and get ready to play. So we’re still trying to keep traditional basketball like people remember it. But since it’s half-court and it’s 3-on-3, we just made slight adjustments. The four-point shot is fun.”
The league will have eight five-man teams. Subbing is allowed.
“What’s cool is we’re going to be traveling like the UFC where all the games are played in the same arena on the same night,” Ice Cube said. “So if you come to the BIG3, you’ll be able to see 40, 48 of your favorite NBA players get down and go at it like they used to.”