Ice Cube’s Big3 Basketball League made a pit stop in Chicago a couple of weeks ago on Sunday, July 23, and like many basketball fans I was intrigued. I searched online for tickets, and found out through Ticketmaster that I could sit courtside for $750, second row for $250, 3rd row for $75, or a few sections back for $20. After unsuccessfully asking multiple friends to cop tickets and join me, I came across a Groupon for $45 floor seats, purchased 2 and dragged my wife to the UIC Pavilion on a Sunday afternoon. To say it was an underwhelming experience would be an understatement.
For starters, I had work later on in the evening, so I knew we were only committing 2 1/2 hours to the 4 hour spectacle that is the Big3. The Groupon I purchased landed us in floor section 7 row K, which you’d think would equate to 11 rows away from the court, but was more like 20 rows or so back. Generally this would be great seats for a basketball game, but all of the floor seats were level, and many people in front of us were standing for pretty much the entire event. I found myself watching the action on the big screen across the court, or viewing the games from the shoulders up of the players. To put it bluntly, these seats sucked.
The games are a race to 50 points counting by 2’s, 3’s, and even 4-pointers should a player sink a deep shot from one of the 3 designated 4-point circles. If a player gets hacked on a shot, he gets 1 free throw attempt to convert the amount of points based on where the foul took place. There weren’t any 4 point free throws taken, but fouls on layups and 3 point shots were common.
I was excited for the first game as Brian Scalabrine’s Ball Hogs faced off against the Power. Scal is nothing short of a legend here in Chicago, and I was looking forward to watching the former Bulls 12th man lace ’em up. Much like his NBA playing days, Scal had little impact on the game as Cuttino Mobley’s corpse torched the Ball Hogs for 21 points en route to a 51-34 Power win. I’m not making that shit up. Mobley’s old ass is pretty much the most dominant player in the Big3.
In between games and during “half-time”, a Big3 hype man would get on the mic to boost crowd morale. Terrible dancers/cheerleaders would relocate at seemingly random areas of the arena to “entertain” the spectators with their uninspired routines. At halftime of the first game, the hype man brought out a fan to shoot 4 pointers for the chance to win $500. Might as well have been a chance to win $5million as some goofy looking kid left his first shot short by about 6 feet. The hype man encouraged people to tweet their seat and section for a chance to shoot, tagging the #Big3, but I’m sure the people who got up to take the shot were predetermined friends and/or family of the promotion.
The 2nd game featured
2 teams no one cares about the Trilogy vs Tri-State. If Dr J wasn’t the “coach” of Tri-State, to say this game lacked star power would be an understatement. This game took on a Harlem Globetrotters feel to it real quick, as Kenyon Martin and Mike James got into it at one point in an overly fake show of disdain for each other. Rashad McCants dropped 27 in the Trilogy win as Tri-State fell 51-34 in the second non-competitive game of the afternoon.
The 3rd game of the afternoon had more star power than the first 2 games combined, as the 3 Headed Monsters faced off against Allen Iverson’s 3’s Company. The 3 Headed Monsters stacked roster includes Rashard Lewis, Jason Williams aka White Chocolate, Kwame Brown (who is a force to be reckoned with in the Big3, basically the Twilight Zone version of his NBA days), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf on loan from the assisted living retirement home, Hakim Warrick, and some guy named Eddie Basden who apparently played 19 games for the Bulls back in 2005 (seriously that’s his only NBA experience). Jason Williams wrecked his knee in like week 1 of the Big3 so he wasn’t in attendance, and the 3 Headed Monster’s coach Gary Payton literally looked like he was sleeping at times. The highlight of this game was before the contest even started when Allen Iverson came out and like 8 thousand people stood taking pictures of the former NBA MVP. He didn’t play, didn’t dress to play, and supposedly didn’t show up the following weekend when the Big3 went to Dallas, so I’m glad I got to see him stand there from about 100 feet away. My wife and I left halfway through the game but I hear this one ended in, you guessed it, another blowout 51-32 victory for 3 Headed Monsters.
While I wish I could have stayed to see Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis face off against Stephen Jackson, 2 and a half games was more than enough Big3 for me that day, and probably for my lifetime. The league parades the former NBA stars and highlights the celebrities in attendance to their best of their marketing ability, but in reality the Big3 is nothing more than a facade. The players don’t really care, the coaches definitely don’t care, and the product itself is sub-par. 3v3 basketball just isn’t visually appealing. There are hardly any dunks, and the ultra-athletic plays you’re used to seeing in NBA games have been replaced by has-beens hacking the shit out of each other under the basket as they clamor for rebounds from all the ill-advised contested 3-pointers. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to see the former NBA stars and celebrities in person. I was arms length from Clyde Drexler as my wife and I walked to our seats before the games started. Michael Rapaport was kissing babies 5 feet away from me. But I’m not one to get starstruck. I just don’t see this league lasting more than 2 seasons, if it isn’t dead by the end of the inaugural run.