A 3-on-3 league for retired NBA stars co-founded by Ice Cube? Yes, please!

There’s really no appropriate reaction here other than something along the lines of: Wait, are you serious because, umm, hell yes?!?!

You’ll want to be sitting down for this, basketball fans. Ice Cube and veteran entertainment honcho Jeff Kwatinetz have cofounded a half-court 3-on-3 basketball league featuring former NBA stars including Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson and Bonzi Wells.

It sounds weird. It sounds ridiculous. But most of all, it sounds awesome. 

Details are incomplete but the BIG3 league, as its called, was officially announced by Mr. Cube and Mr. Kwatinetz on Wednesday. Highlights include playground-style rules such as a “do or die” shot to determine who gets the ball first. Game length will be determined by score, not time, with contests going to 60 points by twos and threes. Halftime will occur when one team reaches 30 first. 

The list of NBA players who are committed, meanwhile, reads like a who’s-who list of basketball antiheroes from the mid-aughts. Nine former NBA players have so far signed on to captain teams as well as play.

There’s Iverson, who requires no introduction but does provoke one obvious question: Will his squad practice

There’s Jackson, who once brawled with fans in Detroit when he played for the Indiana Pacers. More recently, he functions as a sort of keeping-it-super-duper-real commentator on NBA happenings. 

There’s Wells, who was once a rising star with Portland’s “Jail Blazers” teams then later played in China. 

There’s Jason Williams, the flashy point guard who was named to High Times‘ all-stoner team. (The BIG3 league also features Mike Bibby, the steadier hand who replaced Williams with the Sacramento Kings. Storyline alert!)

Williams (left) and Bibby go head-to-head in 2003.

Williams (left) and Bibby go head-to-head in 2003.

Image: RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Also signed on to hoop are former NBA stars Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal and Rashard Lewis. Iverson is set to be a player coach, while older former NBA stars Gary Payton and George Gervin will coach but not play. (Roger Mason Jr. is the league commissioner, because of course a former San Antonio Spur would be league commish.)

We have so many questions. So many questions! Among them: 

  • Who can still ball? 

  • Who’s gotten fat? 

  • Will players dunk? 

  • Can players dunk?

  • Will someone forget to stretch and pop an Achilles or slip a disc mid-game? 

  • Will the league’s official shoe be the Air Monarch

  • What did we do to deserve this blessing? 

The BIG3 league’s rules look pretty amazing, too. There will be something called a “four-point circle,” from which made shots will be worth, you guessed it, four points. There will be no fouling out. You gotta win by four points, meaning extra close games could drag on for eternity, just like at the playground. Defensive rebounds that touch the rim MUST BE CLEARED (yes, that one is listed in all-caps on the website). You can play any type of defense you want. (A one-two zone perhaps? A two-one zone? A one-one-one zone? It’s all legal!)

The league will feature eight teams total, according to Wednesday’s introductory press release. Teams can include five players, a head coach and an assistant coach. Four games will take place every weekend from June 24 through August 12. Each week’s games happening on the same day in one venue as part of an eight-city tour. Playoffs will follow the conclusion of the regular season. The league’s 40 players will earn 52 percent of the revenue it generates. 

It all sound kind of crazy, but the moment is actually ripe for something like this. 

From left: Kwatinetz,  Lewis, Iverson, Cube, Martin, and Mason Jr. attend Wednesday's introductory press conference.

From left: Kwatinetz,  Lewis, Iverson, Cube, Martin, and Mason Jr. attend Wednesday’s introductory press conference.

Image: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for BIG3

The budding success of a delightfully anarchic production called The Basketball Tournament over the past two years has proven a market for alternative basketball content that can occupy the NBA off-season. Meanwhile FIBA, international basketball’s governing body, is pushing for 3-on-3 hoops to become an Olympic sport

“Three-on-three basketball is the most played sport in the world. It is a universally beloved form of basketball that truly highlights a player’s technical skill set,” Kwatinetz says in the league’s introductory press release. “The BIG3 will bring our favorite basketball stars to one of the most popular forms of the sport. The league promises to deliver fun, exciting and fast-paced basketball played by some of the game’s most talented players.”

Sounds good by us. No, scratch that — sounds great by us. 

BONUS: I went to the NBA All-Star Game as Drake’s guardian angel

 

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