The basketball world never sleeps, even in the NBA’s offseason. While we’re between NBA seasons, several other leagues and competitions are coming down the stretch of their respective seasons. From the WNBA season to the 2023 FIBA World Cup, basketball is in no shortage. The Big3 is one such league that enjoys its seasons during the summer, a 3×3 league where numerous retired NBA players square off.
The Big3 has continued to grow since 2017, adding partnerships and viewers year after year. However, the league has had a rocky relationship with the NBA. As The Athletic’s Jason Jones writes, Ice Cube, the league’s CEO and founder, has said on multiple occasions that the NBA has little to no interest in investing in the product.
According to Cube, he and business partner Jeff Kwatinetz asked the NBA to become business partners in 2017.
“We have been supportive of the Big3 since its inception, but we declined to invest,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said to The Athletic.
Cube sees several opportunities for the two leagues to coincide, with the Big3 offering a chance to help develop players according to Cube. The relationship between the two leagues isn’t completely shattered, with the Big3 playing games in NBA arenas, but Cube still wants to continue building a partnership with the NBA.
Jones writes that while the Big3 doesn’t see itself as a direct competitor to the NBA, the thought of any potential conflict between the two leagues has prevented some NBA investors in putting money into the Big3. Cube said that his league has historically performed better on CBS than more established sports leagues but is dismayed at the lack of media attention the league gets. He also said the NBA discourages such coverage and support for his league, according to Jones.
“Those claims are not true,” Bass said.
Jones notes that Cube has experience working with other professional sports leagues, as he’s working with the NFL. The NFL partnered with Cube’s Contract With Black America Institute to increase economic equity and partnerships with Black-owned businesses.
According to Jones, Cube wants to continue expanding the Big3 to a point where it can put teams in cities and has teams controlled by their own ownership groups.
Cube has been encouraged by the support of some NBA players for his league, such as Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown. Still, Cube also wants to see more players continue to vocalize their support for the Big3.
“I would love to see more of them on board, more current NBA players who already have a name in hoops,” Cube said. “But if not, we’ll be here when they want to play.”
I recommend reading the piece by Jones in full. There are several interesting tidbits about the growth of the league that features retired NBA players such as Joe Johnson, Michael Beasley and Jason Richardson.
There are other notes from around the basketball world:
- More planning goes into developing the NBA’s regular season schedule – released earlier this week – than meets the eye. The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov interviewed Evan Wasch, the NBA’s executive VP of basketball strategy and analytics, about the making of the schedule (podcast link). Wasch discussed numerous aspects of the NBA’s game calendar including the new in-season tournament, calculating rest days and rotating opponent matchups. Wasch said that his team of schedule-makers started with the Christmas games as an anchor point and worked backward from there.
- The Thunder waived TyTy Washington Jr. on Friday, but The Athletic’s John Hollinger believes some team should take a hard look at signing the 21-year-old point guard (Twitter link). Washington was the No. 29 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and appeared in 31 games last year with Houston, averaging 4.7 points. However, Washington played well in the G League, averaging 23.1 points and 6.1 assists to lead Houston’s G League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the 2023 NBA G League Finals. Hollinger doesn’t see a team placing a waiver claim on Washington, since clubs could get more favorable contract terms by signing him to a minimum deal. Still, Hollinger thinks Washington would be a good fit on a rebuilding team or a team with an extra roster spot that could afford to develop him.
- The Athletic’s Mike Prada put out a list of every team’s national TV games for the ’23/24 schedule (Twitter link). Prada notes that the Warriors lead the way with 28 national TV games while the Hornets, Pistons, Rockets, Pacers, Magic, Trail Blazers, Raptors and Wizards all have just one apiece. The Lakers, Suns and Celtics join Golden State as teams with 25 or more national TV games. It’s important to note that Prada’s count doesn’t include NBA TV games.