BIG3 Will Close The Competition Gap In Season 3

The BIG3 Draft pool for Season 3 is thick with former NBA champions, all-star vets and fan favorites.

A flurry of former NBA household names have joined the BIG3 Draft pool for 2019, ensuring that the league will have its most talented and competitive season yet. The number of NBA players entering the Draft who are not far removed from an NBA career continues to rise.

Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 pro basketball league is gaining ground as the No. 2 pro hoops league behind the NBA. The NBA has actually become a feeder system for the BIG3 which launched in 2017 and has been expanding its audience and talent pool ever since.

Allen Iverson, Chancey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, and Amar’e Stoudemire were the biggest player names over the first two seasons, while NBA legends like Julius Erving, George Gervin, Rick Barry, Gary Payton, Michael Cooper, and Charles Oakley were head coaches. The positive growth has forced some changes for the 2019 jump off.

The buzz for the league is three-feet high and rising. Fans are starting to take notice as more and more of their past NBA favorites join the BIG3 and further cement it as one of the must-see basketball events.

The league is unique in design, fusing a playground product with a professional hoops atmosphere. You can’t get better action in the NBA offseason than Lakers swiss-army knife Lamar Odom — fully recovered from his Kardashian curse — exchanging buckets with former NBA scoring machine Joe Johnson, who got waived by the Nets in 2016.  Or 5-foot-8 Nate Robinson, a three-time NBA Slam Dunk champ — yamming on 7-footer Greg Oden, a former NBA No.1 overall pick in 2007.

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How about an unfiltered Gilbert Arenas free to express himself without any corporate oppression or censoring.

Meek Mill said he was going to “Put some bands all on your head like Jason Terry” on his hit song “Going Bad” and now Terry is the latest NBA champion to join the BIG3. The sharp-shooting vet is going to murder that 4-point line.

The BIG3 League is nostalgia on crank. Lowering the playing age from 30 to 27 was genius and ensures that the youth and athleticism of many of the players will be at a world-class level. The quality of the games will inevitably improve. The ferocious competitiveness, trash-talking and soulful exchanges are already a staple of the league.

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So now we have a case where the fanfare and celebrity of the league equals the intensity and excitement of the fan response, raising the possibilities for the entire BIG3 franchise.

While the BIG3 is thriving, there are some major technical difficulties that also loom on the horizon. The League currently has no TV deal. Fox network’s ideologies, combined with Disney’s takeover, caused the league to split with Fox Sports after the BIG3’s two-year contract expired in 2018.

Ice Cube says the league needs to partner with a network that looks at the world through a similar lens. So as the league continues to gain fans, finding a new TV partner has become a top priority to keep the league commercially viable. TV rights deals are the lifeblood of professional sports leagues.

Co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz has apparently been fielding interest in BIG3 from other sports media broadcast entities and the league hopes to have a new TV home when the league’s third season tips off in June.

Ice Cube, LL Cool and a team of investors are attempting to bid on 22 regional sports channels  that the Justice Department has forced the Walt Disney Company to sell. If Cube and LL can pull it off, the BIG3 could have its own network. BIG3 CMO Justin Williams told the Shadow League on Wednesday that the bid isn’t guaranteed, “but it’s very much alive.”

Such an acquisition would be an example of a changing sports landscape, with the BIG3 right in the middle as the main functioning artery. There’s nowhere to go but up for a league that has captured and cultivated a niche’ in basketball culture that will exist for years to come.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.