We are on the eve of the birth of a new sports league. The question is if anyone will care. We know that BIG3 will be exciting enough - the format lends itself to fun. But indoor sports in the summer are a tough sell, and I don't know if anyone has been crying out to see old guys play 3-on-3 basketball. I haven't bought myself a BIG3 jersey or anything, but there are odds offered on the league, so it's worth a look. ( Odds are from BetOnline )
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Before we look at the teams, we should look at the format of the league. The first games will be on June 25 in Brooklyn, and there are eight weeks of regular-season action before a semifinal and final over the last two weeks. There are eight teams in the league, and they each play once per week. The games are all on the same night in the same place - a quadruple-header. Games are in 10 different cities, with the finals coming in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. Teams play half-court, and the first team to 60 wins - there is no time limit, and teams have to win by two.. There are two- and three-point shots as per usual, and there is also a four-point circle. Players cannot foul out, but after five team fouls the opposing team gets two shots and the ball. Technical fouls cost four shots and the ball.
Each team has five players. The captain and co-captain were assigned, and then the remaining 24 spots were drafted. What stands out is that some of the guys who didn't get drafted were pretty decent not too long ago - O.J. Mayo, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Steve Francis, for example. Each team has a coach, but given the egos of the players and the style of play it's hard to imagine they will be much more than figureheads.
Let's look at the captains, the lame team names, and the odds, and then we'll talk about the highlights:
3's Company - Allen Iverson: +400
Killer 3s - Chauncey Billups: +400
3 Headed Monsters - Rashard Lewis: +575
Tri-State -- Jermaine O'Neal: +575
Trilogy - Kenyon Martin: +700
Ghoster Ballers - Mike Bibby: +900
Power - Corey Maggette: +900
Ball Hogs - Brian Scalabrine: +900
The first note is that Chauncey Billups quite possibly won't be playing. He has interviewed for the bizarrely vacant Cleveland GM job twice, and league founder Ice Cube claims he has taken that gig. His squad actually had six players, with Stephen Jackson as co-captain and Charles Oakley as a player-coach, so they may not replace him at all.
Iverson is the only captain who is also acting as coach. I'm surely not the only one who thinks that seeing him on the court again is by far the best reason for this league to exist. Iverson had the second pick in the draft, and he chose Andre Owens, who was undrafted long ago after playing college at Indiana and Houston. He had been playing in Europe since until retiring last year. Dermarr Johnson is co-captain and Mike Sweetney and Ruben Patterson round out the roster. Handicapping these guys seems hopeless, but Iverson is exciting as can be, and if he is in any kind of shape at all he should be suited to the league.
Ghost Ballers seems like a decent long shot pick. Mike Bibby was always fun to watch, and co-captain Ricky Davis is a guy I had a soft spot for in his prime. Marcus Banks was never as good as he should have been, but he could be useful on the court, and George Gervin is coaching, which is awesome and likely totally meaningless.
One team I won't be picking is the Ball Hogs. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks Brian Scalabrine as a captain is hilarious. He was really and truly terrible, and it's not like tall old guys with limited mobility like him are ideally suited to this format. Odd, odd choice. And his co-captain is Josh Childress, a master at wasting talent. No wonder they are the longest shots on the board.
From a spectacle perspective, Iverson's team might be matched by the 3 Headed Monsters. The squad features two guys who went straight to the NBA from high school but had very different careers as they went along. Rashard Lewis was a veteran scorer who was excellent for a while in Seattle, while Kwame Brown was a bit of a mess. Both will be interesting to watch. The highlight of the team, though, is unquestionably White Chocolate - Jason Williams is back. His was a career that ended too soon due to injury, but if he can find his health now that he is 41 he'll provide some real fun. If Williams and Iverson can lock in a battle that makes us forget that they are old and playing in a fake league then this whole league just might work.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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