Ice Cube — founder of the 3-on-3 pro basketball league, The Big 3 — appeared on Dan Le Batard’s show earlier this week to get some things off his chest. Much of his irritation stemmed from how his league is covered by the sports media world. What Ice Cube didn’t realize is that “the media” are the ones that gave him the chance to share his frustrations with “the media.”
Irony, meet Ice Cube. Ice Cube, meet irony.
“We thought we’d get a lot more love from the overall sports media community,” he said when asked when he’d been “angriest” at someone or something because of things that kept getting in the way of his ambition.
“We have hall of famers as our coaches. And so to really, virtually, ignore a league that’s this great, that’s this dope in the summer, where there is nothing else as far as hoops — I know the NBA got their Summer League, but after you see the first or second pick play once or twice, that’s pretty much over and you wait for the regular season.
“Also the resistance from the NBA,” claimed Ice Cube, as he took a shot at Adam Silver due to feeling like the NBA Commissioner doesn’t “dig what we’re doing personally.”
Ice Cube then goes on to claim that The Big 3 has better ratings than the NHL, despite Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals averaging 2.72 million viewers. Last spring, The Big 3 extended their TV deal with CBS. According to SportsProMedia, the league’s “peak audience of 1.47 million viewers” occurred in the 2021 Championship Game.
This is what it looks like when an unserious person makes up things in hopes that it’ll sound good.
The question that Le Batard initially asked Ice Cube was a good one, and while he did mention that the league has endured some hiccups, he didn’t add the necessary context, left out factual information, and refused to take any responsibility for some of the league’s larger blunders and failures.
His comments were also a slap in the face to many.
First off, The Big 3 and the NBA don’t have an official partnership. The Big 3 also takes place in the NBA’s offseason, which means that publications aren’t going to send writers who have spent an entire season on the road covering the NBA to cover 3-on-3 basketball instead of the NBA’s Summer League where reporters are focused on more than the players who aren’t first or second picks who Ice Cube doesn’t think much of. Besides, Joe Johnson is still the only player from The Big 3 that’s been signed by an NBA team. The former seven-time All-Star signed with the Detroit Pistons for a few weeks in 2020.
Also, Ice Cube’s comments about the summer months being “where there is nothing else as far as hoops,” is disrespectful to every fan, player, supporter, or coach in the WNBA.
From the beginning, The Big 3 has been The Big 3’s biggest problem. During its inaugural season, Allen Iverson didn’t play in a game that was scheduled in Philadelphia when he was the league’s biggest attraction — leaving fans upset. Instead, Iverson coached and signed autographs on the advice of his doctor, as age is always going to be a hurdle for a league that features older players. A few weeks later, the league suspended Iverson for missing games. By the next season, Iverson had quit altogether.
By 2018, The Big 3 was counter-suing a former staffer member who was claiming they’d been pushed out amid disputes over Steve Bannon and the league’s Qatar-linked investors. The following year the league was trying to expand and find a TV partner, and by 2020 The Big 3 had partnered with CBS.
This was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the league’s issues. Schedules and times would be changed on game days and the department that handled media relations was a constant mess.
In 2019, Ice Cube spoke on a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Miami. It was the chance for a Black founder and CEO of a league to get in front of a room full of Black sports journalists. At the panel, Ice Cube invited a room packed with journalists to the games that were happening the next day at the former American Airlines Arena. They were met with an inept staff that wasn’t prepared for the volume of journalists that showed up as many had to wait in line to be credentialed — if any were left — turned away, or left due to the circumstances.
The same sports media community that Ice Cube feels isn’t showing his league enough love to, brought him in and he left them out in the cold — and they were Black.
Oddly enough, the basketball, and the players, haven’t been the issue with The Big 3 as each season has allowed older players to show that they’ve still got it, and younger players who may not have played in the NBA a stage to showcase their talents.
There hasn’t been some coordinated plan of attack between the sports media world, Black journalists, and the NBA to ice The Big 3 out. Their “shortage of love” is due to a lack of relevance, newsworthiness, and the league’s inability to function like unpaid college interns weren’t in control.
Ice Cube’s beef isn’t with the media, it should be with himself and the people his league has employed — sans the ones playing and coaching. And when he’s ready to admit that, and once things have improved, he’s going to go right back to the people who he was originally upset with — the media.