BIG3 kicks off its sixth season in Chicago, ‘It’s been a long road back to venues like the United Center’

Along with the games, the BIG3 will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop this weekend in Chicago with performances from Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict and Shawnna.

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for BIG3

A typical morning for businessman and entertainment mogul Ice Cube begins with coffee and a conversation with his wife.

Living in Los Angeles, though, Cube isn’t easing out of bed at 9 a.m. because, by that time, everybody on the East Coast is already halfway through their day. Successfully taking care of all of his ventures, particularly in his work as co-founder of BIG3, requires an early wake-up call.

“I like getting up early and being just as early as the people out on the East Coast,” Cube said. “To be able to make sure we can get our business of the day done. I knew what I was signing up for. I welcome it, and I’m having fun doing it.”

Since co-founding the 3-on-3 pro basketball league with Jeff Kwantinetz, Cube has been front-facing through every step of its development. He’s helping establish rules, like the league’s four-point shot, inspired by the Harlem Globetrotters, to uniform designs and sitting courtside for nearly every game.

Cube doesn’t consider that atypical of a founder. He has pulled inspiration for his operation from others who he said set the standard.

“I’m totally immersed in the league,” Cube said. “I looked at how guys like Vince McMahon grew the WWF, now the WWE. He was out front. He was the Pied Piper telling everyone this is the greatest thing. When you’re starting a new league like this, you need somebody that can get the people’s attention.”

In its sixth season, the BIG3 is going to new levels to grab people’s attention.

Week 1 kicks off Sunday at the United Center with six back-to-back games beginning at 1 p.m. Trilogy will face the Enemies with Chicago native Quincy Miller on the roster.

Trilogy is coached by Stephen Jackson, and Enemies by Gilbert Arenas. The league’s coaches include Lisa Leslie, Nancy Lieberman and Julius “Dr. J” Erving.

The BIG3 also will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop this weekend in Chicago with performances from Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict and Shawnna.

“Doing things outside the box,” Cube said when asked what mark Chicago’s made on hip-hop. “Starting with rappers like Common. Basically, coining a Chicago spot on the map when it comes to hip-hop and the groups that followed, like Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, Ye. You can’t say enough about how much Kanye’s changed the game.”

Cube and Kwantinetz are considering changes to the BIG3.

Aside from operations following the pandemic, which included playing the 2021 season in Las Vegas, the BIG3 has operated like a traveling circus. They will be in eight cities during the regular season, followed by the playoffs, which will be played in Washington, with the championship in London.

Cube said the league is considering moving into a different structure with individual owners and teams operating out of specific cities.

“We would love for an owner to bring a team to Chicago,” Cube said. “We’ve connected with a few owners, but none out of Chicago yet.”

Another possibility is expanding with a women’s league. Cube admitted, though, it’s not something they can do until the BIG3 is more solidified.

“We’re still working to grow this league,” he said. “We have to get our foundation firmly under us before we can consider doing a women’s version of the BIG3.”

The BIG3 has made efforts to work with the NBA, Cube said, but it hasn’t been met with support. He believes that if the NBA perceived the league as complementary and not competition, they could quickly establish a women’s BIG3 league.

Cube said several NBA owners love the BIG3 and have expressed interest in investing in the league, but certain bylaws prevent them from doing so.

Cube expressed pride in the league’s growth despite the pandemic and what he calls minimal media interest, but also the culture they’ve established. For players, the BIG3 is a place that allows authenticity complemented by a fun style of play that Cube calls fire ball. For fans, the BIG3 provides an entertainment experience with basketball at the center of it.

“It’s been a long road back to venues like the United Center,” Cube said. “We’re happy to be there and just want people to show up.”

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