You know how old retired NBA are always complaining about the league today? It’s too soft; there’s no defense, no one posts up, the art of the big man is lost, etc, etc. Well, these gray-haired stars of yesterday now have the chance to bring back the glory days thanks to rapper and actor Ice Cube and his BIG3 three-on-three basketball league.

The BIG3 is like the NBA without the soft play that you always hear retired stars complaining about. There’s no shortness of tough play and defense. Recently, during a game in Los Angeles James White and Charles Oakley got into it As Rashad McCants explained postgame, that’s part of what makes this league so great.

“You guys are so used to the softness of the league that you’ve never really seen guys argue on the court without the referees jumping in and saying ‘technical, flagrant, lala,’” said McCants. “We actually was out there; it was more satisfying for us to be able to get that out. That’s our passion, our true passion, competitiveness that have been held back for so long because in the NBA it’s not something that they’re accustomed to or they want because it might get out of hand. But we were able to calm it down, and it’s just a part of what we do, it’s a part of what we are.”

The BIG3 encourages players to be themselves on the court. If that means trash talking and a little bit of chippy play, so be it. The players love it, and, most importantly for the survival and longevity of the BIG3 basketball league, the fans love it.

“I think it’s fun,” said Derrick Tarver, who fell in love with the play style. “It’s something that has good energy. To basketball fans, it brings all those things that everyone was talking about. The energy, excitement, something cool in the summertime, that when basketball isn’t going on, it gives fans something to enjoy. They did a good job with this one.”

The BIG3 continues to draw fans and viewers all over the country as a basketball alternative to the NBA. A totally different play style mixed with some old favorites have added to the hype around the league, and the product only continues to improve as the veterans continue to warm up.

“The basketball has gotten better as the weeks went on,” said James. “…I think that I gotta start earlier to get ready for the season, but overall I think that this league is gonna be around for a long time. People are trying to see if this is a joke and how serious it is, but now the retired players are seeing this game, and they’re excited about what’s taking place.”

The gradually improving play and serious nature of the league has attracted some big names. Recently retired superstars such as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant have begun to swirl around in rumors as potential additions to the league next year, joining the main attraction, Allen Iverson. As more and more retired stars begin to see the BIG3 as a legitimate organization able to provide them with a platform to play and perform, you will continue to see big names joining in on the fun.

Ice Cube has mentioned the possibility of the BIG3 partnering with the NBA in the future, but for now, it is its own unique league with a play style and feel unlike any other.

And, if guys like Garnett and Kobe start joining in, the league might go mainstream quicker than anyone would have guessed.

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