I suppose that’s nothing new. Cube has always been daring: bluntly in your face with his intellect, pushing every envelope, and perpetually years ahead of his time with many of his endeavors. However, his latest concept is really blowing up, and I have to tell you, it’s a must see production.
Since his brainchild, BIG3, has become a reality, it has become one of the hottest tickets in the hip-hop community, and to mainstream America as well. If you haven’t seen or heard by now, the BIG3 is a three on three half court showdown, consisting of former NBA players. Playing before a just-about sold out Oracle Arena, there are currently eight teams, meaning four games per evening, but given the trajectory that the BIG3 is on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 12 teams and six games a night by next season.
Here’s a brief synopsis of the rules:
*Three on three. Substitutions happen at a dead ball or a timeout.
*Each team receives one 30-second and one 60-second use-it-or-lose-it timeout per half.
*Five seconds to inbound the ball.
*Steals and air balls do not have to be cleared. If the defensive team grabs the rebound, it has to be cleared.
*When a team gets to 25, it’s halftime.
*The first team to 50 (and up by two points) wins.
*The shot clock is 14 seconds.
*All fouls are delegated to the team as opposed to one player, meaning that a player cannot foul out. After the fifth foul in a half, the opposing team gets two from the charity stripe and possession of the ball.
*The two and three point measurements are standard NBA lines. There are also four-point zones on the floor that are 30’ out.
*For those of us of a certain age, yes, hand checking is allowed (That said, get off the lawn!).
Everywhere you look, there is an enshrined Hall of Famer. Coaches consist of Julius Erving, Nancy Lieberman, George Gervin, Charles Oakley, Gary Payton, Rick Barry, Rick Mahorn, and Michael Cooper. In their primes, those eight alone could get to the NBA Finals. Players include luminaries such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (who can still bury the deep ball), DeShawn Stevenson, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, the Bird Man Chris Andersen, Carlos Boozer, Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest), Nate Robinson, Drew Gooden, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, and plenty of other top shelf talent. That’s a lot of All-Star weekends.
The games themselves are fun, but make no mistake about it: the fellas play to win. Every game was competitive, came down to the wire, and strategy very much comes into play. As mentioned, Abdul-Rauf showed off his range at the end for his 3-Headed Monsters, burying two treys at the end of the night to seal a W for Coach Payton. At 49, he’s far and away the oldest player in the league, but my goodness, given his physical condition and the way defense is played in today’s NBA, he looks like he could still come off a few screens and be a sixth or seventh man in the rotation for a contender.
Given the star power in the building, the BIG3 just might be the most fan friendly event I’ve ever attended. Yes, there is security everywhere, but the access to players is unprecedented. You can be sitting in the stands and randomly have a player walk by you to visit with family or a friend in the crowd. In other words, there are plenty of unexpected, unplanned opportunities for the once in a lifetime selfies, so keep your phone charged up.
Between game entertainment included Too Short and E-40. Sitting courtside was LL Cool J. And yes, Cube was in the house. I have to say, receiving a fist bump and saying “Good evening, Mr. Jackson” was an experience I’ll never forget.
Note: due to the environment, there are no bags and/or containers allowed in the arena.
The post game press conferences are without question the most engaging I’ve ever attended. Players and coaches delve into many issues both on and off the court, including many social issues. Gary Payton chatted with reporters about baseball great (and fellow Oakland native) Curt Flood, and how he changed the landscape of professional sports with being the sacrificial lamb for modern day free agency. Drew Gooden and Baron Davis each opened up about their childhoods in the Bay Area and what losing the Dubs and Raiders means to the Town of Oakland. Abdul Rauf educated the room that while he came before Colin Kaepernick, he was most certainly not the first athlete to fearlessly take a stand on a social issue, and applauded other athletes using their platform to promote justice.
Next week, the show goes to Detroit, with dates coming in Miami, Toronto, Boston, and Atlanta, with the playoffs in Dallas and finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The BIG3 is quickly becoming a tough ticket. A word to the wise: I’d buy in advance.