It’s safe to say that at some point, there have been NBA players who, due to age, shouldn’t have been in the NBA. Their bodies simply couldn’t handle the wear and tear of a full-court 48-minute game.
Well, that is part of the appeal of BIG3, a 3-on-3 basketball league that will debut in June.
“Nobody wants to see guys as they get older running up and down the court, playing 5-on-5, getting hurt,” former NBPA executive director and current BIG3 commissioner Roger Mason Jr. said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But 3-on-3 basketball, even when I played in the league, we played that sport a lot. A lot of times before games, you get a little 3-on-3 in, especially if you’re not going to play a lot that night. These are guys that still have gas in the tank, guys that can still play at a high level. They may not be able to do back-to-backs. They may not be able to do four games in five nights. But one game a week, half-court basketball, they still have some game left. This is a platform and a league that’ll allow them to still show their skills and compete at a high level.”
The league will have eight five-player teams and will feature several big names, including Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Mike Bibby. The players won’t make NBA money, but they will get to showcase their skills.
“It’s not public, but all the guys are getting paid a hundred thousand,” Mason said. “The cool thing about our league is that’s just the minimum. Based on where you finish at the end of the season in the playoffs, you can get more. So if you win the league, you get the lion’s share of the PRI, which is player-related income, and if you finish eighth, you get the lowest. Even the ninth week, you’re still playing for something because if you finish in seventh place, you get double than what you would get if you finish in eighth place.”
Games will be available on television and online. Mason, in fact, said the BIG3 will announce its TV deal in the next week or two.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to continue to play and use a platform to show your skills, I think it’s a good thing,” Mason said. “We think this is going to be a valuable option for not only guys that were maybe role players in the NBA, but also superstars who still have some game when they’re done playing in the league. But certainly that new TV deal is a prime example of how hot live sports are, and we think we’ve got something really special with 3-on-3 basketball.”
Mason, 36, played for the Bulls, Raptors, Wizards, Spurs, Knicks, Hornets and Heat. While the NBA is not officially involved in BIG3, it supports the endeavor.
“This is a promotion of basketball, and when you promote the sport, it’s good for everybody,” Mason said. “While they may not have an official (role) with us at the BIG3, they’re there to support. And every year, there will be new guys leaving the NBA and potentially coming to our league.”