The BIG3 is back. The second season of the professional three-on-three basketball league, featuring NBA players of yesteryear, kicks off another 10-week season this summer. The BIG3, co-founded by rapper/actor/writer/mogul/professional mean-mugger Ice Cube, will make stops in Chicago, Miami, Toronto and seven other cities on its summer-long tour. New participants for this season include Metta World Peace, podcast hosts Nate Robinson and Carlos Boozer, and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Last year, the first season of the league culminated in No. 1 overall pick Rashad McCants leading Trilogy to the inaugural championship. Tickets for season two are now on sale and can be purchased over at the BIG3’s website. Earlier this month, The Crossover caught up with Ice Cube to discuss the biggest lesson he learned from season one, if he ever wants to get on the court himself, and an update on the next Friday movie.
Rohan Nadkarni: What was the biggest lesson you learned from the first year of the BIG3?
Ice Cube: That if you start a league or anything like that, you have to realize no wants to help you in Year 1. No one is going to really jump in with both feet in Year 1. Everybody is going to dip one toe, dabble with it when it comes to sponsors and partners. You have to prove yourself to really start to get companies and things that you really want to attract. To get them excited, you have to be around for a few years. That’s what I learned. Last year was a “Show Me” year. This is a “Prove It” year.
RN: What are you most excited to see in Year 2?
IC: The matchups. Just seeing guys. They’re going to be more ready for the league, in shape. Most of our players who are back this year understand what it’s all about. They’re going to be better prepared, more focused. And we’re live this year, that’s better too. I’m looking forward to those two things.
RN: I saw videos of you running guys through drills at the combine. What’s motivated you to be so involved with every aspect?
IC: Just making sure these guys are taken care of. Just making sure that these heroes are taken care of and treated right. I asked them to be a part of this league. I told them that we wanted to run a first-class league, and I want to make sure it’s everything that I told them it would be. They trust me. They trust me to make sure everything is done on the up and up. You can only do that hands on. I could never pass this off to somebody. They would never know how to do it anyway, to be honest. They would just run it into the ground, I believe. We’re still trying to perfect the formula, so until it’s totally perfected, I’m going to be this involved.
RN: What was the inspiration for making last year’s championship team, Trilogy, keep their entire roster the same for this season?
IC: Seeing championship teams break up because of free agency and money. I think it’s something that all leagues should look at. When a team wins a championship, to be able to return with that same roster of players. I think a championship team—I’m talking somebody else’s business, not BIG3—a championship team should be awarded a little more salary cap as a bonus, to be able to pay those players. I just felt like this is something I would have loved to see.
When we started this league, I thought, why not make the team that wins the championship have to defend it? It’s going to make the league more competitive. And it gives teams a barometer for the draft to figure out what they need to beat the top team.
RN: Were you ever taken aback by one person who told you they were a fan of the league?
IC: Surprisingly, everybody I run across that’s been able to check out the league or see it, they’ve been into it. It’s not really person that blows me away. It’s cool that whoever sees this, you have to be intrigued. I don’t see how you can see the BIG3 this summer, if you flip past it on TV, and not be stuck. We’re trying to create must-see TV. We’re getting there.
RN: Is political protest or demonstration something you want to see happen in the BIG3?
IC: These guys are grown. We’re not going to have a babysitting league and tell people how to be. We want guys to come play basketball at a high level, compete and have fun. They’re more than grown. We welcome whatever they do. As long as it’s not hurting anybody, we’ll be fine with it.
RN: Who are some guys you’re looking forward to watching?
IC: Nate Robinson. I’ve always been a fan of his game and his spirit. It’s going to be cool to see him doing his thing. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, he was one of my favorite players from last year. It’s almost across the board, though. Amar’e Stoudemire. It’s going to be fun.
RN: Have you ever thought about trying out for the league yourself?
IC: Never. [Laughs] Never. I got too much respect for who these guys are. We’re not just dealing with NBA players, we’re dealing with former first-round picks, No. 1 picks, All-Stars, champions. I know damn well I can’t get out there and do nothing positive. [Laughs]
RN: Your son is turning into a big star in his own right. Are you guys going to be in any movies together?
IC: Oh yeah, we’re trying to put together a couple movies. But the thing is, they have to be right. I’m not into doing it just because we can, I’m into doing it because we should. That’s kind of how I am. We’re going to find the right movie, I’m excited. And it’s going to work.
RN: How excited are you for his success?
IC: I’m like, Lavar Ball. [Laughs] That’s how I feel inside. I want to scream to the world that this guy is the new guy. He’s my son, so everybody knows I’m biased and how I feel, but it’s real, he’s talented. I would have thrown him in a movie years ago if it was just about that. But I know he actually has the talent to be star. He’ll pay his dues and he’ll have a really great career.
RN: Any update on the latest Friday movie?
IC: Yes, we’re close. Right now we’re still writing the movie, making sure that’s ahead of the curve and not behind the curve. But I believe we’ll start shooting, hopefully by the end of this year.
RN: Chris Tucker has gotten a lot more expensive since the last one.
IC: Well, we always been prepared to pay him. It’s really on him. We got the money. It’s just him wanting to do it and feeling like it’s the right move for him.