Few athletes, celebrities, actors, and entertainers truly define the essence of the city that they’re from or stick to their roots. Ice Cube, however, is an exception.
The Los Angeles native has stayed true to the city he loves throughout his entire career which has spanned decades and has spread all over the entertainment industry in many different ways. From his days as a founder of N.W.A to unforgettable movies he starred in like Boyz in the Hood and Friday, Cube has found success wherever he’s gone and now he’s expanding into the sports world with the BIG3 League.
The iconic rapper, actor, and diehard Los Angeles Lakers fan has put together a three-on-three basketball league which will makes its debut this weekend. Cube took some time out of his busy schedule for an interview with Lakers Nation to talk about his next endeavor.
Ryan Ward: The BIG3 League gets underway on June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. What inspired you to start your own league?
Ice Cube: “Sick of seeing guys retire that I knew could still play. I felt like there was a lot of fans out there that was like me. Wondering why they haven’t thought of a way to still see guys play. We came up with the perfect solution. Half-court three-on-three basketball.
“We happy to be here. I’m glad it hasn’t been invented until now.”
RW: What sets the BIG3 apart from the NBA?
IC: “The NBA is a full court, five-on-five. This is half court, three-on-three. Our rules are a little more innovative than the NBA. Got a four-point shot. Get fouled you shoot a two-pointer. One shot gets you two points. Fouled on a three-pointer. One shot gets you three points from the three-point line.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to speed the game up in that way. We’ve got a 14-second shot clock, so we’re doing everything we can to make these games fast and exciting.”
RW: There’s been a lot of rumors about Chauncey Billups possibly taking a front office job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Is that true?
IC: “It’s a possibility. He hasn’t taken the job yet, I don’t believe. I thought he did, but I heard that he hasn’t. He’s still part of the BIG3 until he takes that job.”
RW: What would happen if Billups did take the Cavs job? Do you have a replacement lined up?
IC: “Yeah. We have reserve players for each team so we would call a reserve player for the Killers 3s up. Then we’d talk to Stephen Jackson and see if he’d want to go with another marquee kind of player/captain or co-captain at this point.
“So we got a little bit of work to do if it happens.”
RW: The announcement of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas has created a scheduling conflict with the BIG3 Championship Game. Have you worked things out on that front or do you know what you plan to do?
IC: “We haven’t quite worked everything out. There’s still a lot of talks going behind the scenes. Right now we on the date (Aug. 26) until we’re happy with what they have coming our way. I don’t know if there’s much more news to kind of talk about. We’re close, but we’re not quite there yet behind the scenes.”
RW: Is it true kids will get into BIG3 games for free this summer?
IC: “If you’re 13 or younger, and you go to the box office, that’s the key, with a paying adult, you get in free. Kids get in free.
“Not doing it online. You got to go to the box office. Great promotion that Rashard Lewis helped us create. He is a big-time family guy. It’s a cool gesture to make sure our league has the right look from the youth.”
RW: Are there any players that you hope to eventually bring over to the BIG3 League? Who would you like to see play in the league?
IC: “Oh yeah. Like KG, Paul Pierce, Gilbert Arenas…there’s a few guys out there that people will still like pay money to see.”
RW: Have you reached out to Kobe Bryant? Shaquille O’Neal or Lamar Odom?
IC: “[Laughs] It wasn’t a full-out reach, but we spread the word. We just think some guys are going to watch us this year and see how we do and get ready for next year.”
Who do you think will be BIG3 League MVP?
IC: “Man, I don’t know. Most people are looking at some of the superstars, but I’m looking at people like Rashad McCants. I’m looking at Andre Owens. I’m looking at some of these younger guys that didn’t get a chance to do they thing in the league like they wanted to. Got a lot to prove, and they going for it. I expect some new stars to emerge from the BIG3.”
Most underrated player in the BIG3 League?
IC: “It’s probably going to be…I’d probably say Brian Scalabrine.”
RW: When can basketball fans in Los Angeles check out BIG3 games at the Staples Center?
IC: “August 13. We’ll be at the Staples Center. One ticket gets you four games. Some of the most well-known players in basketball history will be there. Our coaches are Hall of Famers. It’s just a great ticket.”