Big3 begins: 3-on-3 league has close games, not much Iverson

Ruben Hill
June 26, 2017

He has been very vocal that he's not looking for All-Star Game intensity.

For as much as everyone associated with the league argued it was anything but a novelty act, fans didn't pay to watch Iverson's teammate, Andre Owens, finish with 20 points and 15 rebounds; they paid to watch Iverson. The product needed to be worthy of a sport that's so popular around the world that it's ticketed for the next Olympics.

BIG3 Basketball League founder Ice Cube, center, applauds during Game 1 of the league's debut, Sunday, June 25, 2017, at the Barclays Center in NY. "Coach part is going to go on throughout the game", Iverson said. Their "We want AI" chant was just as loud as the ovation Iverson received when he was introduced in the starting lineup. The BIG3 League playoffs start up on August 20th at Key Arena in Seattle, with the Championship Finals set for August 26th at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. "I grew up doing his moves, trying to play like him, so at the end of the day, him playing and coaching me, telling me, 'Go out there and just play, he can't guard you, go right past him, ' the sky is the limit".

The league, founded by Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, got the boost it needed when it landed Iverson.

The Hall of Famer had warned on Friday not to expect too much of him at age 42, seven years removed from his last National Basketball Association game.

"Ultimately getting names is important". He spoke to Sports Illustrated about the league and said he loves the modern National Basketball Association. Games are played to 60 points on a half court that added more intimacy than the full-court National Basketball Association.

"Our rules are funner than the FIBA rules".

The BIG3 League will have televised game coverage exclusively with the Fox Sports network, although it may not be live. With hand checking allowed, the games looked nothing like today's National Basketball Association game. Big men Kwame Brown, Jerome Williams and Reggie Evans were among the most effective players of the day. Success has been limited for men's teams from the US, where top players favor standard 5-on-5 competition, but Cube thinks his players could be the answer. "You're not going to see the Allen Iverson of old out there". However, they failed to win a gold medal.

This will be the inaugural season of The BIG3, playing in cities across America like Brooklyn, Chicago and Tulsa this summer. He had wanted to play a little longer in the National Basketball Association before hurting his knee, so figured playing halfcourt would be a flawless way to continue without the wear and tear.

As pumped and positive as the players sounded after each game, it's worth noting that this didn't quite go off without a hitch.

Right off the bat I knew the BIG3 was a serious league because the media lunch spread was incredible. The only reason I get out there for the couple of minutes that I do get out there is for the fans. But once guys started knocking down shots or defending you, that competitive nature kicked out because it's a defensive challenge.

Then there was the injury factor - easily the biggest impediment to a league featuring players in their late 30s and 40s.

Cube and Kwatinetz leaned on their fellow league executives, former NBA player and Players Association executive Roger Mason, Jr. and longtime Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask, in developing the structure and format of the league.

Cube vowed the games would be competitive - players are vying for a revenue share based on final league standings - and there was a possession early when players on both teams dived on the floor for a loose ball. League co-founder Ice Cube was on hand along with other stars there to witness the 3-on-3 format league in all of its glory. There was pushing and shoving in the post and a few hard fouls, and the physicality and trash talk appeared to heat up as the games went on. "So we're here to fill that void for the people that appreciate the way the game has been played forever, you know what I'm saying?"

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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