Basketball - INACTIVE

Q&A with Ice Cube: Hip-hop icon on BIG3 basketball, return to Charlotte and Jordan

In 2017, musician-turned-actor/producer Ice Cube and entertainment industry executive Jeff Kwatinetz founded the BIG3, a professional 3-on-3 basketball league.

The touring league just started its third season, expanding from eight to 12 teams. The league lowered its eligibility age from 30 to 27 years old, and players are now required to have NBA regular season or professional experience overseas. CBS or CBS Sports Network will broadcast league games this season.

Ahead of Saturday’s games at Spectrum Center — the second stop of an 18-city tour — Ice Cube spoke with the Observer about the league, the importance of Charlotte for the BIG3 and what fans should expect.

His answers below have been edited for brevity and clarity:

Q. What prompted you to create the BIG3?

A. What got me into doing the BIG3 is being a fan of basketball, and I always love 3-on-3. I play a lot more 3-on-3 than 5-on-5. I always wondered why I wasn’t elevated like to the pro level. You see a lot of tournaments like Mountain Dew or Nike, they’ll do tournaments for amateurs, like outside in the parking lots, but never in that arena for players who can actually play at a high level. So that’s kind of how the idea started to germinate. I want to see guys back on the court doing it that can still play this.

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Q. Is this league everything you expected it to be?

A. Definitely a dream come true in a lot of ways. I see all the work that needs to be done, so I’m not necessarily smelling the roses right now. We still got a lot of work to do so we’re having fun with it. It’s one of the funnest projects I’ve ever worked on in my life. Just trying to make sure this league gets traction and lasts forever.

Q. How do you pick the cities you visit?

A. We want to go to places that love basketball. We want to go to arenas that are very friendly, so to speak, to our unique situation, and we want to go to cities that supported us. We came here Year 1, got a lot of support. So it was a no brainer to come back here too.

Q. Why Charlotte?

A. We’re big fans of Michael Jordan, so anything that he’s involved with, we always feel special to be a part of. We hope to get those same people back in the building and more and just continue to grow the sport here in North Carolina. I don’t think you can have a basketball league without coming in North Carolina or Indiana. These are some of the richest basketball places in the country.

Q. What are some things you want basketball fans to know about the BIG3?

A. It’s a loose atmosphere. A NBA game is pretty buttoned up, and we don’t want that. We want people to have fun, be loose, to not feel so restricted, and to enjoy this new league. What’s great is if you can’t make it out here, you can watch us on CBS.

Want to go?

BIG3

Noon, Saturday

Spectrum Center

TV: CBS (WBTV, Ch. 3)

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