When Roger Mason Jr. called former NBA players to invite them to play in The BIG3 – a 3-on-3 basketball league debuting this summer – it didn’t take long to get a yes.
“When I made the call to a lot of the guys, it really wasn’t that difficult,” the 10-year NBA vet and BIG3 commissioner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “When they (found out) that Ice Cube was involved and with my time both as a player and an executive in the Players Association, (they knew) that it was the real deal. And guys still feel like they have some gas in the tank. When you’re talking about half-court, it’s very different than playing a 5-on-5 game, very different than back-to-backs. So one game a week, most guys felt like they could do it, and turnout has been incredible.”
From Allen Iverson to Chauncey Billups to Jermaine O’Neal to Kenyon Martin to Mike Bibby, the league will have no shortage of star power.
“We’ve already had some 3-on-3 exhibitions and closed-door scrimmages where guys are really getting after it,” Mason said. “If you put NBA players on a court, they really go hard and compete.”
If you think a 3-on-3 league sounds gimmicky, well, it isn’t. Many NBA players began their basketball lives playing this version of the game they love. Plus, it’s a chance for fans to see their favorite players from the last decade and beyond.
“I think there’s a real opportunity to make this thing huge,” Mason said. “If you look at the summers, there’s not a lot of programming for sports. There’s a good chance that 3-on-3 basketball will be in the 2020 Olympics, so we think we have a special opportunity to create a new league with a new sport most kids grew up playing. Three-on-three is the first game I played, and most guys in the league are the same way, so we think this first year is going to be great and this is going to be something to look forward to for years to come.”
Tickets, which are available at ticketmaster.com, go on sale Saturday.
In other news, Mason was asked about Houston’s 114-75 loss to San Antonio in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals Thursday. How does a team play its worst game of the season with its season on the line?
“I have no explanation for it,” Mason said. “That game yesterday, to say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. I liked that James Harden took responsibility for it, but it was pretty disappointing to see.”