With his work done putting together a brand new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, National Basketball Players Association deputy executive director Roger Mason is leaving his position to take on the role of president and commissioner of a new professional basketball league for retired NBA players organized by Ice Cube.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the former NBA player is helping Ice Cube to put together a summer league of three-on-three teams in a half-court league. The league, named BIG3, will not have permanent locations for teams but will travel the country starting in June. Most of the destinations are likely to be aimed to visit cities and locations without NBA basketball.
The league already has some former NBA players on board for the fun, including Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, and Jason Williams. So the league may not have top-tier retired players like Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan, but it should have some guys who know what to do with the rock. Gary Payton has agreed to serve as a coach for one of the teams as well.
“I thought of this concept as a fan who got sick of seeing his heroes retire and not play anymore,” Ice Cube told The Vertical. “A lot of these guys can still play once they retire – just not the back-to-backs or four games in five nights.
“I started to look at three-on-three basketball and wondered, ‘Why isn’t this played on a pro level?’ It’s the most normal form of basketball. And from there it was like, ‘Yo, why don’t we make this happen?’
“Not only do we get a chance to see these guys keep playing, but we give guys who retired who still got some game – who don’t want to pick up a [microphone] on TV and who don’t want to go overseas to play … some of these guys still want a stage to play on.”
OK, I’ll admit it – I’m in and hope this will be on TV somewhere. Odds are a TV deal will be worked out at some point, as Ice Cube is reportedly in the process of hashing out the television rights. Given the projected launch in late June, that seems like one more interesting alternative to the sports calendar for those not into regular season baseball or whatever soccer happens to be played at the time. It may not have some of the names fans generally pay to see, but three-on-three could be a fun idea to run with to kill some time in the summer.