by Christopher Dodson
Big 3 is now a league of 16 Basketball teams across America, and IS already a force to be reckoned with. Congratulations to ICE CUBE and team for a brilliant idea – well executed. The Big Final will be held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on 1st September 2019. Before then are the playoffs.
There is a playoff basketball buzz in the Big Easy this week. The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans will host the semifinal round of the Big3 Playoffs. There are many reasons why the city should be the annual host of the Big 3 Final Four weekend. One small reason? The Big3 competition is replete with Gulf Coast hoops talent, especially in the featured playoff games. The biggest reason is to create big excitement to build around one of the Big3’s most important weekends.
There a couple of contending teams that could field starting lineups exclusively with talent developed a couple of hours off of Interstate 10. They both seek to advance to the championship game in front of a mostly home crowd. Big3 has seen increased attentence this season. Having a date to look forward to in a city that helps attract fans will bring in more attention and paying fans.
Reggie Evans (Pensacola, FL), Rashard Lewis (Pineville, LA), and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Gulfport, MS) will lead the 3 Headed Monsters against a Triplets squad featuring Al Jefferson (Monticello, MS) and Jamario Moon (Goodwater, AL). Joe Johnson leads the way for the Triplets but hails from Little Rock, AR. Sergerio “Teddy” Gipson (Monroe, LA) is only a few miles closer.
Neither Johnson nor Gipson hail from hometowns known as part of the Gulf Coast region. Though the drive to Interstate 10 should perhaps be a flight, New Orleans is close enough for family and friends to attend. Also, hurricanes can knock out their power just as the loser of this game will be eliminated from the championship game.
Abdul-Rauf (his given name was Chris Jackson) excelled during his time with LSU. He was honored as the league’s best player as a freshman and was a two-time All-American. Glen Davis also starred for LSU and now suits up for Power, who will play the Killer 3s and Stephen Jackson (Houston, TX) for a spot in the title game.
A consolation game between 3’s Company and Bivouac will open the Big3 Playoff weekend. The games will air on CBS. The Big3 Championship will be decided on September 1 in Los Angeles.
On nonplayoff teams, New Orleans Native Will McDonald William McDonald featured for the Ball Hogs. McDonald has been busy playing in summer tournaments having just completed The Basketball Tournament. Perry Jones III (Winnsboro, LA) served as co-captain with the Enemies.
The financial benefits of attracting a crowd from the greater part of the American southeast is just an anomaly. Perhaps the Gulf Coast is not as heavily represented in the playoffs in future seasons. The benefits of creating destination dates are far greater. The Big 3 and Ice Cube should have a good day or two lined up well in advance.
MLB has Opening Day and NASCAR has Daytona. The WWE has a whole Wrestlemania weekend, the NFL takes Thanksgiving Day a couple of Superbowl weeks. The World Cup has longer breaks between competitions but also last a whole month. The NBA has started planting flags on several holidays.
The Big3 is an Ice Cube production, so finishing the season in Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend is perfectly on-brand. The Big3 Championship can now be the feature event of a week in Hollywood. Out of state fans could plan longer visits to the city.
As the league expands teams, the playoffs will likely expand as well. The Big3 played in 18 cities this summer, the most since the league’s inception. There are only so many destination cities that fit the playoff plan for the Big3’s timeline. With such an overwhelming southern representation, New Orleans could serve as the league’s playoff proving ground. The city abbreviations (NOLA/L.A) could even be used in some creative advertising.
Ice Cube likes to have a festive atmosphere around his basketball enterprise. New Orleans is the best option east of Las Vegas, but west of Miami. Las Vegas may be too close geographically to Los Angles for the Big3 market the two weekends of games. Miami could also host a playoff weekend, should the playoffs expand.
New Orleans is also becoming one of the focal points of professional basketball. Zion Williamson will call the Crescent City home for the better part of the next decade. Lonzo Ball grew up in Los Angeles but now plays for the Pelicans. NBA training camps open in just a few weeks. Attracting attention in such a small market is no longer an issue.
The Big3 playoffs fall in the peak slow season when fans most crave the return of NBA basketball. The Big3 is still in the proof-of-concept stage but with 3v3 basketball now an Olympic sport, it is well-positioned to capitalize on existing growth potential. The league is seeing growth in live attendance and will negotiate a new television contract for the fourth season.
The annual Big3 games in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will always draw a crowd. The Big3 needs more destination events in other markets to keep growing. Creating a destination weekend is one to bring in fans. Look at the NBA’s claiming of holidays, including Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
New Orleans has hosted its fair share of final four events. The city and league are both oddly unique. Should the league decide to create some destination dates for fans, settling in New Orleans at the end of August seems a great option.
Update: 27 August 2019 from big3.com
TWO LEAGUE NEWCOMERS AND BASKETBALL LEGENDS CLAIM TOP INDIVIDUAL PRIZES BEFORE COMPETING IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON SEPTEMBER 1ST AT STAPLES CENTER
Today, BIG3, the premier global 3-on-3 basketball league, announced two basketball legends have won the top two individual awards of the season with Joe Johnson claiming league Most Valuable Player and Lisa Leslie being named Coach of the Year. Leslie and Johnson will lead Triplets against Killer 3’s in the BIG3 Championship Game this Sunday, September 1st at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In Joe Johnson’s first season in BIG3, he dominated most statistical categories leading the league in points (175), assists (31), total field goals (63), and 4-pointers (4). Additionally, he finished second in steals (9), third in rebounds (60), and third in 3-pointers (16). His 175 points is already a single-season BIG3 record.
After an illustrious Hall of Fame career with four Olympic Gold Medals, two WNBA titles, and three WNBA MVP awards, Lisa Leslie has added BIG3 Coach of the Year to her list accolades in just her first season on the bench. Leslie led Triplets to a sterling 7-1 record and first place regular season before defeating 3 Headed Monsters in the postseason to earn a berth in the title game. Lisa is the second consecutive female Coach of the Year after Powers’ Nancy Lieberman took home the honors last season.
“BIG3 is proud and humbled to have such legendary basketball players as part of the league. Lisa and Joe have put in the work each and every day this season and the results speak for themselves,” said BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz. “Now we can’t wait to see if they take home the biggest prize against Killer 3’s on Sunday.”