What to Make of the Big 3 Basketball League
Have you ever wanted to relive the glory days of basketball? Well at least what you think the glory days of basketball are. For many of the younger generation of basketball fans, we remember players like Allen Iverson, Corey Maggette, Kenyon Martin, Jason Williams, and Chauncey Billups. All of those players had their glory days in the early 2000s. Sure there are old games that you could watch on ESPN Classic, but that is not what reliving the glory days is all about. The other option is taking a video game like NBA 2k17 or NBA Playgrounds and playing with some of your favorite players. That is fun, but is not what NBA fans really want. Basketball fans want to see live action of their favorite players even if they are only a shell of their former selves. Just ask Allen Iverson.
“I think it’s important for the fans to know that I was all in for this thing to be a coach in it, then I just thought it would be a cool idea, me and Cube we talked about me getting on the floor a little bit,” Iverson said. “Obviously, you see that don’t sit too well with some of the fans because they want to see me play. I’m not Allen Iverson at 25 anymore. I’m 42 years old and have been away from the game for 6-7 years.” (via Jodie Valade of USA Today)
So let’s go over what is really happening with the Big 3 Basketball League. It was created by Ice Cube as a way to get fans the best experience possible. Meaning the fan experience is the focus of the league. They have meet and greets and different showcases to get the fans involved. The league is actually quite extraordinary. Ice Cube managed to get many former superstars to be a part of this spectacle. There are names like Allen Iverson, Charles Oakley, Clyde Drexler, Gary Payton, George Gervin, Julius Erving, Rick Barry and Rick Mahorn coaching. The players are lead by the likes of Iverson(coaching and playing), Kenyon Martin, Jason Williams, Brian Scalabrine, Chauncey Billups, and Jermaine O'Neal to name a few. It’s an early 2000’s basketball fans dream. The problem is these guys are mostly past their prime. Current NBA players are not really talking about the Big 3, but some former NBA players that are not playing in the Big 3 have some interest.
According to the LA Times Paul Pierce had this to say about the league “Man, I might try to get KG [Kevin Garnett], Kobe,” said Paul Pierce, a retired 10-time NBA all-star. “Maybe we set up our own team coming this next year.”
How does the league work?
Well the league works much like many other basketball leagues. The big difference is that the teams play 3 on 3 and the venues change each week. Teams do not necessarily have a home court, but the whole league will play their games on the same day at the same arena. They play basic playground rules, the only real exception is they count fouls and have a 4-point shot. Well depending on the playground you play on there may be a 4-point shot as well. Another big difference from street ball is the use of instant replay (wouldn’t that be useful in the playground?). Overall, the league is made up of 8 teams, 5 of which have names that mention the number 3 in it (brilliant). Another interesting note is that each game is played until 60 with no time limit. Half time takes place when one team gets to 30. That is a fun format with an ultimate endgame.
As many new leagues go after the first week there were already some changes. In week 2 the league wanted to make the games quicker. The best way to do that was to make each match 50 points instead of 60. Halftime also changed from 30 points to 25. These little tweaks will be essential if the league wants to flourish. If the games are too long or too boring for the fans, it will be tough to get them in the building
Here are all of the rules of the Big 3 Basketball League
The major problem is all of these players have not really been relevant in a long time. It is great to see athletes that you grew up watching play the game again. At the same time it is also sad to see them as a shell of their former selves. Through the first week of play injuries have been an issue in the league. In the first 4 games of week one, three major players were injured. Those players were Jason Williams, Kenyon Martin and Corey Maggette. The injury problem makes complete sense though, just look at the NBA, there are tons of injuries in the league. Now take former NBA players and put less players on the court, there probably will be the same or more injuries to those players. Age is never a good factor when it comes to injuries either. Most of these athletes are on the wrong side of 30, some even on the wrong side of 40. There is a reason they are no longer in the NBA. As fun as it is to see former stars play basketball against each other, this league is missing the true essence of 3 on 3 basketball. It is also important to note that in week two there were no significant injuries to players in any games.
If you are interested in seeing what some of the Big 3 is like, check out this highlight video of week one:
The most important improvement is quality of play. There is a whole community of street ballers that would be perfect for the Big 3 League. The problem with that is name recognition. Head to Rucker Park in New York City and you will find the guys that would be perfect for this league. Selling tickets would be tough and that is why they went with former players. It makes sense, but no one wants to remember Allen Iverson as the player he came out as in his first game with 3’s Company. Streetballing is about the gimmicks that people have behind it. These players play the game embarrass the other players on the court. It is a different culture than the NBA. Some of the players may even be better than NBA superstars. In the book Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander, there are tons of players that had the skills to transfer to the NBA, but just could not make it there for off the court issues. Fly Williams has been considered as one of the greatest playground basketball players of all-time, he just could keep his off the court issues in check. The point is if this was a true street basketball style league they need the best of the best.
Also the TV coverage needs to be live. There is no reason in this day in age to have to watch basketball games the day after they happened. If Fox Sports 1 does not want to show the games live there has to be a TV station out there that is willing to do that. The other option is to just stream the games. Credit can be given to the league for having the streaming option for fans. It is really tough to watch games on tape delay. Online streaming is the way to go for a lot of these leagues, therefore this issue is kind of solved.
Overall, this is a really interesting concept and with the Olympics bringing in 3 on 3 basketball Ice Cube really jumped in at the right time. Once the league is established, they need to send scouts out to the playgrounds across the country and find the real talent out there. It makes sense that you need star power to get fans interested. It is not like they could just pluck away LeBron James and Kevin Durant to join the league. It will be fun to see what happens with it. At this point, the Big 3 is a way for basketball fans to get a chance to watch some fun games while the season is on hiatus. Just enjoy the show and root for your favorite players.