Ice Cube and Roger Mason Jr., who is stepping down as deputy executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, are partnering with a group of investors to launch a new three-on-three, half-court summer league for retired NBA players, per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. Mason will be the president and commissioner of the BIG3, which will start its season on June 24.
From The Vertical:
Plans include eight teams of five players - including an ex-player as coach, as well as a team captain - that'll tour together from city to city starting in late June.
So far, retired NBA players Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal, Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams are some of the players committed to play on teams, league officials said.
Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton has agreed to be one of the coaches, league officials said.
"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."
If this is successful and profitable, it could be wonderful news for recently retired players. The question is whether or not the league can get bigger names involved, which could help it secure a television rights deal. The increased popularity of summer league in Las Vegas over the past decade has shown that fans still care about basketball in the offseason, but the BIG3 needs to deliver a product that is compelling if people are going to pay for it or watch it on TV.