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Power’s Corey Maggette Talks Big3 Playoff Hopes, Lessons From Nancy Lieberman’s Leadership

Maggette discusses all things BIG3 as his Power team goes for back-to-back championships.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Ice Cube’s BIG3 League playoffs kick off on Sunday in New Orleans with the Final Four of the league’s 12 teams vying for a championship. All games will be broadcast on CBS, CBS Sports Network and CBSSports.com.

The Triplets dominated the League with a 7-1 record and will face the No. 4 seed 3 Headed Monster. The Triplets are coached by WNBA Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie and led by former NBA sharpshooter “Iso” Joe Johnson who averaged 21.9 points per game, broke the BIG3 single-season scoring record and led the 3-on-3 league in assists.

Grabbing the title won’t be a layup for the Triplets who will probably have to get past defending champs Power to do it. Power has a champion’s heart, but the squad’s limping into the playoffs with replacement parts. 

2018 BIG3 MVP Corey Maggette missed the first four games of the season. Chris “Birdman” Andersen (ACL) and Cuttino Mobley (torn squad) are already out for the season and Power lost Glen “Big Baby” Davis to an apparent hip injury last Saturday.

Maggette will have to recapture his 2018 MVP form and put Power on his back if they hope to repeat. Power added former NBA players Jeremy Pargo, Carlos Boozer and Julian Wright last week to replace their injured starters. The odds are definitely stacked against them. 

The Shadow League spoke with Maggette in advance of this Sunday’s 2 pm playoff semifinals game against No. 2 seed Killer B’s, coached by Charles Oakey and led by sharp-shooting, trash-talking NBA champion Stephen Jackson.

The Shadow League: You’ve been in the BIG3 since its inception in 2017. The first year you had the Achilles injury, the second year you won MVP. This season, another injury forced you to miss the first four games. Now you have to carry the team in its quest for back-to-back championships. Talk about that journey. 

Corey Maggette: First of all, it’s been such a blessing to play the game after retiring from the NBA for almost five-plus years. You get a chance to continue to play and mix it up with your friends and have more camaraderie.

As far as this year 3, it’s been a tough challenge. We’ve had multiple injuries that have plagued us. This year has been the toughest challenge but our team still did the right things to make the playoffs and we still have a chance to win back-to-back championships this weekend in New Orleans.

TSL: Have the injuries lowered Power’s expectations at all? 

Maggette: Well, I would never lower my expectations. We still have a championship-caliber team. It’s just that this year, it’ll be a little harder. Overall we had to make some changes in personnel, but our concept and what we try to do and the way we play as a team stays the same. You have to play with passion, grit, and toughness. (Coach) Nancy Lieberman has done a great job of really preparing us to be the best team that we can. With scouting reports and film… in order for us to be well prepared to enter the games. 

TSL: You mentioned Nancy. How impressed are you with how she’s handled the setbacks you’ve had this year?

Maggette: We had the pleasure of our team having two Hall of Famers as coaches. Our first year was Clyde Drexler who is now the commissioner and now we have Nancy Lieberman and it’s been a pleasure having her on as our coach. She’s the only Hall of Famer on our team and there’s a reason why they call her “Lady Magic.” She has really shown us how to be better men as far as preparation and just trying to be winners. 

TSL: What’s surprised you about the early evolution of the BIG3 League? 

Maggette: We are starting to get more organized. In the beginning, you’re still trying to figure things out. I think Ice Cube and Jeff Kawinetz have done a great job in really trying to initiate the right things to be a great league. From year 1 to year 3, they’ve added four new teams. The talent level was really stepped up. Adding a seven-time NBA All-star in Joe Johnson has really been a great plus for the league as well.  

Maggette: I truly believe the sky’s the limit. I think they are in the right direction and you look at what the Olympic Committee has done over last season, adding on 3-on-3 as an Olympic sport, has added more validation of the BIG3. You have to give a lot of credit to FOX in the first year and now CBS being a part of it from a Network standpoint. 

TSL: What’s the next elevation of BIG3. Are NBA guys talking about the BIG3 as a viable retirement plan?

Maggette: Just to continue to build a brand. If you continue to build a brand you’ll see more people interested in what’s going on in the BIG3. I think now you’re seeing more players actually watching. We’re getting great press from NBA players who have been watching and attending the games. 

Dwyane Wade is a guy who’s been impressed with what the BIG3 has done. If the League continues to market the right way, players will watch. And it also just gives another avenue for players who will be retiring soon. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to do after your NBA career is done. Playing in the BIG3 gives you a chance to actually play pro basketball, give back to the community, be a part of something that’s different and also focus on things off the court.

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