SOURCE SPORTS Exclusive: Ice Cube Talks Season Six of The Big 3 and Hip-Hop50


Ice Cube, the legendary co-founder of the BIG3, has kicked off another of the premier 3-on-3 basketball league. The season launched at the United Center in Chicago and will continue with an eight-week regular season that will bring the BIG3 experience to cities such as Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, and New York, culminating in an outdoor festival at the iconic Arthur Ashe Stadium on July 9.

In a groundbreaking move, the BIG3 is expanding its reach beyond North America, with the 2023 Championship Game and All-Star Game scheduled to take place on August 26 at London’s legendary O2 Arena. This marks the first time a BIG3 game will be held outside of North America, showcasing the league’s global appeal. Ice Cube expressed his enthusiasm for the league’s international expansion, promising fans an unforgettable experience.

The Big 3 fan experience also expands to Daily Fantasy Sports, partnering with Prize Picks to offer contests on each week’s action.


“This partnership is going to be amazing for both companies,” said Steven Kerstein, Head of Company Relations and Market Intelligence, Prize Picks. “There’s so many synergies between us. Our customers love basketball first and foremost. That’s our number one sport by far. There’s a huge opportunity, and we think that The Big 3 can captivate basketball fans in the summer.

“A majority of our customers are in their later twenties and early thirties. They grew up watching these players, but will also, through the parameters of the game, will get to learn about new players like Isaiah Briscoe. This is a really powerful opportunity.”

Ice Cube echoes that sentiment, believing the league is back on track to providing an exceptional basketball appearance after conquering the roadblocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with The Source, Ice Cube reveals what fans can expect from The Big 3 in the 2023 season, continuing to grow the league and celebrating Hip-Hop 50.

We are sitting in the middle of Hip-Hop 50. How does it feel for you to look at legends and understand people admire you the same way?

It feels good. A lot of people get into the game for money. When I got in, it was about respect. You want to be respected as a dope MC. The pride, so to speak, is in how people look at you and revere what you have done. To me, that’s better than having numbers and selling 10 million records. Record sales don’t really matter. Respect matters most.

We will circle back on a couple more Hip-Hop things, but we are entering season six of The Big 3. One of the things that I felt was very powerful and attracted many people to this league was your belief in the product as a fan. This is what you wanted to see. Our heroes or people who hit that NBA age wall are forced out the door. How do you feel about the progress The Big 3 has made as both a fan and a businessman?

As a fan, it’s great. I love to watch these guys go at it. When you start to get older in age in the league, your skillset is getting better. It’s like the tricks of the trade, your little sneaky moves, and all that are developed. You’ve honed those in and perfected those. But now, some guys can’t handle those 82 games, full court, back-to-backs, three games in four nights. But half court to 50 once a week, they look just as good as they did when they were out there doing the NBA run. I think we have a great sport that people recognize, and we’re doing it the right way. We’re making our version of the game as exciting as possible. We have four-point shots, “Bring the Fire” rolls, trying to be a faster game, and have a target score of 50. All these things, to me, make our game unique and interesting to watch. We have hand-check and trash-talking. We’ve calibrated the game to where we feel we don’t need to keep tinkering. Wins are hard to come by. I’ve seen teams go 5-0 and then not win another game. It’s a short season, but you must see through the grind. It’s a sprint, ten weeks. It gets pretty rough.

As a businessman, it’s a lot of hurdles that we’ve been able to clear. COVID hit every business, and for us to be able to survive that, when we were just three years in at the time, is pretty remarkable. The last two years, we’ve been coming out of that, and now we are back to the business model that we intended. Going from city to city on a tour and an All-Star game.

You mention that touring element, and now you’re about to go to London. How does it feel to know that you are traveling international waters and can draw an international audience?

It’s nice. You know, one of the things that never dropped was our ratings. We might have had attendance issues because we were in the bubble. This league is not meant to be in one city for ten weeks. It’s hard to sell out anything ten times in a row like that. But the ratings always increased, and we have been shown in over 40 countries since we started. With CBS, we got that reach, and on Paramount Plus, we have our games streaming worldwide. We see the league as a worldwide league because three-on-three basketball is actually more popular across the world than five-on-five in some cases. Especially in Asia. We always saw this as an international play. We went to Toronto before. We been to the Bahamas. We had a tour in China set up before the pandemic, but that got stopped when Daryl Morey said something in China. They took down everything NBA in the country in 24 hours. All the merch out of the stores was off the shelf, couldn’t get it on the Internet, which hurt us too. We have NBA-affiliated guys in Dr. J [Julius Irving] or Iceman [George Gervin]. So we got hit with that. But going to London is incredible. We will have a championship and All-Star games, so we are taking our best players.

The Big 3 also has expansion teams. Evidence of the international play is the Euroball team in expansion. What led to that expansion?

Much like the NBA, people want to come play when you get the best version of the sport in the world. 3-on-3 has often just been played in amateur sports. They want a taste of playing professionally. So we must expand because we’re leaving too many good players on the sideline. It’s not enough spots when it’s only 12 teams.

We got partnerships, players, and expansion. What do you think The Big 3 needs next?

Continuing to have great partners and great investors. Hopefully, soon, great owners to help grow the league and growing teams within cities. That would allow us to do more stuff than what other leagues do. We want to lean into our Young 3 Program, where our players and coaches instruct youth three-on-three basketball. Then we have the youth wearing The Triplets or Three’s Company jerseys. That’s our vision. Of course, we see ourselves expanding and securing more of the summer. That all starts from this season and returning to going from city to city.

The Big 3 has a live music experience. With this being Hip-Hop 50, do we get any cool integrations of that celebration into this season?

In every city, we aim to bring out the people who have done it in that city throughout those 50 years. For Chicago, that’s Twista, Crucial Conflict, and Do or Die. We got Shawnna. We had Chance the Rapper, but he was double booked. We will look for artists essential to Dallas, New York, Memphis, and Charlotte. Some are nationwide, and some are hometown favorites. But we are going to pay homage to those cities.

Outside of The Big 3, will you be doing anything to celebrate Hip-Hop 50? We have you for NWA, Westside Connection, and your solo career. It’s so many avenues.

I’m happy being a part of different celebrations, but I haven’t really thought about hosting something. I got so much to do with the Big 3. I’m supposed to play Yankee Stadium on August 11, a huge 50th anniversary of the Hip-Hop thing. Then Essence Festival for another Hip-Hop celebration. So, me doing anything else would be repetitive.

You have seen so many points of Hip-Hop. It evolves every day. What is something you see today that you really enjoy in the culture?

I love the creativity on the stage. That could be Kendrick Lamar or Drake, Ye. Artists are taking stage shows to another level, which is good to see. That’s what I enjoy most. People taking their show to the next level. People should always push creativity.

The Big 3 Week 2 action is available below.