The BIG3 is officially underway, and makes it’s television debut Monday night. Early reports are that the play was pretty ugly, but it’s an ambitious attempt at a unique product. If you are unfamiliar with some of the tweaks made for BIG3 basketball, here is legendary rapper Ice Cube dressed like a Foot Locker employee to lay things out:
28 seconds into that video, we are introduced to my favorite aspect of BIG3 hoops: the four-point line. It was once a joking subject for the sharpshooters of the era, and now it’s a full-blown reality. It’s represented by three circles, each 30 feet from the basket. Watch Mike Bibby hit one in the first BIG3 game:
He’s still got it.
The four-point play was instituted into the NBA in along with the three-pointer in 1979, but a four-point shot has never formally been proposed. The league informally explored the idea during meetings in 2014, but no serious discussions ever progressed.
The NBA belongs to shooters now, and so it feels that a four-point line, in any format, could become a reality. The success of the Golden State Warriors has led serious basketball minds to ridiculous conversations, with Reggie Miller calling the concept “comical” and a “gimmick.” But Larry Bird, one of the earliest adopters of the three-pointer, had a different opinion:
“You put that four-point line in there and people will start practicing. And once they start practicing, they get better at it. Maybe five or ten years down the road, fours are what everybody will be shooting. The game evolves.”
The format works in the BIG3, but it’s not the only league using four-pointers. The ABA is the originator of the three-point line, and recent editions of the league have included a four-point rule. The rule is simple: any shot from the backcourt is worth four points. The ABA has a few other wacky rules: players can’t foul out, overtime is played to ten points, and each team can field one “celebrity” per game in addition to their normal roster.
I love this rule. Even though those small circles will house the ugliest bricks of the inaugural BIG3 season, this is what having smaller leagues is all about. Ideally, I want my basketball somewhere between the 1960’s NBA and SlamBall. I don’t think trampolines are on the table anytime soon, but I could see the NBA stealing any good ideas that come from the BIG3 variation.
With that being said, it’ll be interesting to see if any BIG3 teams try to shape their roster around the four-point circle. If players like Mike Miller and Quentin Richardson decide to join BIG3 right after leaving the NBA, it could be an interesting dynamic in this experimental league.