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BIG3 expands to 12 teams, adds Lisa Leslie as a head coach

Ice Cube's BIG3 league is expanding for its third season. | David Banks/Getty Images

The BIG3 will see a host of changes for the upcoming 2019 season, including an expanded field of teams and a new head coach in WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, the basketball league for former professional players announced Thursday. It will be the BIG3’s third season in operation.

“Over the past two seasons it’s become very clear that there is a huge appetite for the BIG3, not only with the fans, but with elite players as well,” BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube said in a statement. “In order to meet that growing interest, the league needs to expand and we are excited to be taking this important next step so early in our existence.”

For the first two years of the BIG3, the barnstorming league operated with eight teams and played one game per week. It’s now pushing beyond those boundaries with 12 teams and two games per week, which it says will allow for visits to 18 cities in 2019, up from 12 last year.

The expansion will coincide with several familiar names to NBA fans joining the league, including Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Rashard Lewis and Kenyon Martin “to name a few.”

Leslie also joins the league as one of its head coaches after one of the most decorated careers in hoops history. The Pro Basketball Hall of Famer will join Nancy Lieberman as the only female coaches of men’s professional basketball teams, according to the league, which also boasts former NBA stars Gary Payton, Rick Barry, Julius Erving and George Gervin among its coaches.

The BIG3 visited Chicago last year with a date at the United Center in June. The complete 2019 schedule and rosters will be “announced shortly.”