The BIG3 debuted in Brooklyn on Sunday and missed a great opportunity to capitalize on the slowest sports weekend of the calendar year to date.
When the afternoon rolled around and people who had heeded the hype about Ice Cube’s new 3-on-3 league started looking around to see how to check out what Allen Iverson’s game looked like these days, they were unanimously disappointed.
The league will instead be presented in a show format on FS1 on Monday nights, which will probably improve the presentation but muddles up the handicapping aspect of it.
While producing a show will enhance the entertainment value of the league as a show, you can’t like the idea of an edited show if you’re trying to break down advantages from team-to-team. I’d rather examine what I’m watching, not what you want me to see. A raw feed would be nice.
Still, since you can profit on the BIG3, it’s worth paying attention to what transpires weekly since the league did put forth a worthwhile product, making it even more of a shame there’s no way to see it live unless you make it to the arena for the actual games. The venues rotate, so unless you plan on being in Charlotte, Tulsa, Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas in July, you’ll have to wait for the highlight show to get a good grasp on the league.
The first two games played at Barclays Center featured tight finishes, which bodes well for the competitive aspect of an event featuring retired players in their late 30s and 40s. Shooting was woeful, but the desire to at least attempt to play defense means this should be worth watching.
The event gets over to the West Coast for the final weekend of the regular season at L.A.’s Staples Center on Aug. 13 and for the playoffs at Key Arena in Seattle the following weekend. The championship round was scheduled to be played at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on the 26th, which may change due to the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight.
Games are 3-on-3, governed by normal rules with the exception of a 4-point shot, a 14-second shot clock, no fouling out and all defensive strategies allowed. With hand-checking back in the mix, the game has a physical streetball appeal that offers a nice change from the NBA game. First to 60 wins. Teams play the first half until someone reaches 30. It seems simple enough, which means the league’s popularity will hinge on how well-played the games are and how enticing the action is.
Although turned off by not being able to see action unfold on a live feed – a statscast is the only way to monitor real-time outside of social media commentary – there can still be plenty worth redeeming to ultimately capitalize on from week-to-week and with a futures wager in picking a champion.
My choice, Trilogy, produced the most lopsided result in winning its opener, 60-45, over Stephen Jackson’s Killer 3s and should be tough behind Al Harrington. At +700 to win the tournament, this team features No. 1 draft pick Rashad McCants, the top selection in this draft and he could wind up being one of the more unstoppable scorers in this league. Although Kenyon Martin and Harrington had injury issues slow them down in the NBA, their skills should hold up nicely in a halfcourt setting, while the athleticism of “Flight” White could be a game-changing asset. Head coach Rick Mahorn, currently the Pistons radio analyst, led teams in the WNBA.
Chauncey Billups’ dance with the Cavs, who have offered him their GM gig, has put his plans to play for the Killer 3s on hold. Although Jackson is still likely to be a force, despite shooting 1-for-11 from 3-point range in Game 1, and burly forward Reggie Evans was the top big man selected in the draft, they would undoubtedly miss Mr. Big Shot if he’s unable to participate. Brian Cook’s ability to shoot from long range should create matchup problems, so if they do get Billups in or find a suitable replacement in addition to Larry Hughes, this group could win it all despite the slow start.
The expected highlight of this league was seeing A.I. do his thing again, but Iverson added to the disappointment of this league’s unveiling by playing just nine minutes. He’s expecting to mostly serve as coach and ambassador in this first season, which puts most of the pressure for carrying the team on No. 2 draft pick Andre Owens, expected to emerge as one of the top shooters in this league. DerMarr Johnson and the slimmed-down Michael Sweetney have played together for years, so chemistry should be there for this group, which beat the Ball Hogs 61-51 despite Iverson scoring just two points and missing five of six shots.
The Hogs are led by the self-proclaimed White Mamba, Brian Scalabrine, who leads a group reliant on 3-point shooting since it will also feature former NBA champ Rasual Butler. There are few teams in this league more capable of draining more 4-pointers, so Rick Barry’s team is likely to let it fly, but success will also hinge on Josh Childress, Derrick Byars and Dominic McGuire putting in defensive work.
Clyde Drexler’s Power team is definitely a threat because everyone on the team looks in shape and most are capable of guarding multiple positions. Drexler, who coached at the University of Houston, should be an asset. DeShawn Stevenson led the way in a tight win over Jermaine O’Neal’s Tri-State squad. It’s hard to believe Cuttino Mobley retired nearly a decade ago after being diagnosed with a heart condition, but he’s continued to play over the years. Don’t let the Papa Smurf beard fool you. He can still play. Corey Maggette will be an asset too.
O’Neal’s team is coached by the legendary Dr. J, Julius Erving, and features a host of names you’ve heard of, including potentially the top big man in the tournament in O’Neal, a six-time All-Star. It’s the name you probably don’t know who may make the difference, since Xavier Silas is still just 29 years old and will have the ball in his hands often whenever he’s out there. Mike James also showed up to play, scoring 13 points and 12 rebounds despite being barely 6-feet tall.
The 3-Headed Monsters may feature the BIG3’s best player since Rashard Lewis hit the first 4-pointer and produced a game-winner in scoring 27 points in a 62-60 win over the Ghost Ballers. Lewis’ ability to spread the floor will be the key here, since Jason Williams will be able to get guys the ball since he’s been playing a lot of ball over the years throughout Florida. Kwame Brown is the biggest player in the league, so we’ll see whether he can take advantage of the attention shooters command to get rebounds and easy buckets for a team whose timeouts should be entertaining with Gary Payton at the helm.
The Ghost Ballers have Ricky Davis, Mike Bibby and Marcus Banks all capable of taking over offensively in addition to an enforcer in Ivan Johnson, who was banned from the Philippine Basketball Association and tops the list of guys you don’t want to get into conflict with in this league. He’ll set some mean screens for the rest of this group, which will feature George Gervin as coach but likely follow Bibby’s lead on the floor. If nothing else, this group has the best logo.
Buy yourself a hat or jersey with the winnings of backing Trilogy to win the inaugural tilt.