The BIG3 entered it’s second season Friday night with the opening night to a new season. Familiar faces from last year welcome a new wave of former NBA players to try and de-thrown the reigning, undefeated champions of the 2017 inaugural season, Trilogy, through an eight week regular season.
Game 1: 3-Headed Monsters vs. Ghost Ballers (Final: 50-48)
Gary Payton (Coach)
Rashard Lewis (Captain)
Reggie Evans (Co-captain)
Mahmoud Abul-Rauf (Co-captain)
George Gervin (Coach)
Mike Bibby (Captain)
Ricky Davis (Co-captain)
Carlos Boozer (Co-captain)*
The first game of the Season 2 opener was a match-up of the 3-Headed Monsters, including the reigning regular season MVP Rashard Lewis, going up against the Ghost Ballers that includes the likes of a buff Mike Bibby, Ricky Davis and newcomer Carlos Boozer.
The game was close throughout, with the Monsters holding a 25-20 lead at the half. Reggie Evans, the bruiser of the bunch, bulldozed his way to a 17 point, 13 rebound double-double to lead the way for the Monsters, while Ricky Davis excited the crowd with three 3-pointers to lead the Ghosts with 21 points.
The game came down to the last possession with both teams tied at 48 each. Most would assume that the reigning, sharp-shooting MVP in Rashard Lewis would take the game-winning shot, but instead it was the grey grizzly bearded guard, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who pulled-up inside the three-point line and swirled in the game-winning 19-foot jumper to seal a thrilling season opening
Game 2: 3’s Company vs. Killer 3’s (Final: 51-30)
Michael Cooper (Coach)*
DerMarr Johnson (Captain)
Baron Davis (Co-captain)*
Drew Gooden (Co-captain)*
Charles Oakley (Coach)
Chauncey Billups (Captain)
Stephen Jackson (Co-captain)
Metta World Peace (Co-captain)*
The second game featured a collection of many first-year BIG3 players from both squads, featuring Baron Davis and Drew Gooden (along with the decorated former Lakers Showtime defensive guru and WNBA Sparks coach, Michael Cooper) for 3’s Company along with Metta World Peace (the player formerly known as Ron Artest) for the Killer 3’s.
3’s Company got out to a quick start, living up to their team name by throwing up several three pointers by Drew Gooden to take a 13-2 lead after the first three minutes. The Killer 3’s couldn’t get anything going, looking sluggish and a step slow throughout the rest of the 1st half to score a measly 7 points. To make matters worse for them, DerMarr Johnson rattled in a 4-pointer to close out the half for 3’s Company and give them a commanding 26-7 lead at the break.
However, the Killer 3’s came out with some more urgency to start the second half, cutting 3’s Company’s lead to 34-22 that included a traditional 4-point play by Alan Anderson to offset Baron Davis’ BIG3 4-pointer right in front of league founder, Ice Cube.
But ultimately, the deficit was too much to overcome. After several tough 3-pointers from Baron Davis and a sweet up-and-under move by former Texas Tech Red Raider Andre Emmett to close out the second game, 3’s Company left the court with a convincing 51-30 win.
It was unfortunate that the Killer 3’s captain, Chauncey Billups a.k.a. “Mr. Big Shot”, didn’t suit up for the squad, as they definitely could have used his presence out on the court to make this game a little more competitive. But the balanced effort from 3’s Company definitely showed throughout this contest and ultimately prevailed.
Game 3: Ball Hogs vs. Power (Final: 31-51)
Rick Barry (Coach)
Brian Scalabrine (Captain)
Josh Childress (Co-captain)
DeShawn Stevenson (Co-captain)
Nancy Lieberman (Coach)*
Corey Maggette (Captain)
Cuttino Mobley (Co-captain)
Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis (Co-captain)*
Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen*
The third match-up featured many returning BIG3 veterans from the first season, including captains Brian Scalabrine and DeShawn Stevenson for the Ball Hogs along with captains Corey Maggette and former Houston Rocket Cuttino Mobley for the Power. New additions for the power included the colorful Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen, Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis, and head coach Nancy Lieberman, the first female head coach in any men’s professional basketball league.
The first few minutes were mostly uneventful, with the Ball Hogs holding a 12-7 lead after the first stoppage of play. Big Baby Davis muscled his way inside for a traditional three-point play right out of the timeout to cut the lead to two, followed up by a tough fall-away shot by Corey Maggette to tie the game up at 12. After several back-and-forth buckets between each teams, including an acrobatic lay-up by the graceful Davis to close out the half, the Power came back to take a 26-24 lead at halftime.
The second half opened with an emphatic block by ‘Birdman’ (which led to an easy dunk by Maggette) followed by a put-back lay-up by Andersen to give the Power a 32-26 lead, then a step-back three pointer by Cuttino Mobley to put the Power on top 37-28 after the first timeout of the half. Glen Davis then leveled DeShawn Stevenson with a monster screen that threw him to the ground, but he quickly bounced back up and powered through to make a straight-on three pointer to cut the lead to 39-31.
However, the Power were too much for the Ball Hogs, with a lethal inside presence of ‘Birdman’ and ‘Big Baby’ along with hot outside shooting from Maggette and Mobley, with the latter bouncing in a game-winning free throw jumper to excite his Houston hometown crowd.
Game 4: Tri-State vs. Trilogy (Final: 51-34)
Julius Erving (Coach)
Jermaine O’Neal (Captain)
Amar’e Stoudemire (Co-captain)*
Nate Robinson (Co-captain)*
Rick Mahorn (Coach)
Kenyon Martin (Captain)
Rashad McCants (Co-captain)
The final game of the evening featured Tri-State, led by big men Jermaine O’Neal and Amar’e Stoudemire along with the mighty mouse Nate Robinson going up against the undefeated, reigning champions from last season, Trilogy, featuring the intense Kenyon Martin, Dahntay Jones, and 2017 championship MVP Rashad McCants (who came in wearing a Joker mask and an Infinity Gauntlet).
The contest started out very feisty, with McCants and Robinson jawing back and forth after consecutive long jumpers made by each player (with McCants staring down Nate to please the crowd in between possessions). David Hawkins then checked in and immediately made an impact with both a sweet reverse lay-up along with a deep swish from the right-side 4 point circle to give Tri-State a 19-8 advantage. Dion Glover then got involved and brought Trilogy back, talking trash after hitting a couple long shots to cut the lead to 21-17. But Robert Hite had the final say of the half, rattling in another long four-point bomb to give Tri-State a 27-17 lead at the break.
Amar’e Stoudemire and David Hawkins kept the pedal down for Tri-State to start the second half, getting easy buckets inside to keep the lead at ten of 34-24. Nate Robinson then delivered a great pump fake plus a nifty drive inside to score a layup followed by two put-back buckets by Jermaine O’Neal to push the lead to 40-26. Then after another McCants bucket, Robinson delivered a beautiful left-handed lay-up with McCants hovering all over him, drawing the foul in the process and sending the crowd into a frenzy. And to cap off the night, Robinson drilled a top-of-the-key three pointer to knock off the Trilogy for the first time ever, 51-34.
After the game, a scuffle between the two teams broke out, leading to many other players and friends on the court to break everyone up. Although the final result was by a large margin, Nate Robinson stole the show with his energy, effort, and determination to lead Tri-State to an impressive victory over the once undefeated Trilogy.
It was a fun and exciting opening night for the BIG3’s 2nd season, filled with many highlights and guest appearances throughout the night (including local Houston rappers Paul Wall and Slim Thug, along with former Rocket Tracy McGrady). If Ice Cube can continue to recruit more big-time former NBA players to the fold and crowd pleasers such as Nate Robinson, there is plenty of room for growth and excitement to continue for this new league moving into the future.