I attended the BIG3 3-On-3 basketball league’s visit to Miami, FL on July 20 2018 at American Airlines Arena. I’d heard of the BIG3 and seen a few Instagram clips last summer and his year, but never watched full games or paid a lot of attention to the progress of the league. But when I was asked if I’d like to attend the league’s week 5 games as a member of the media, I immediately said yes for two reasons:
My girlfriend Anna loves attending live basketball events, maybe even more than I do. She’s definitely come along.
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Though I don’t watch high school or college basketball, or any basketball that’s not the NBA, I can get engaged with any level of basketball action if I’m there in person with good seats.
(Talking to FOX execs before the games)
I’ll do the rest of this post bullet-point style, sharing my observations as opposed to telling a story (as there isn’t one).
The games took place at the Heat’s House on Biscayne Boulevard. The BIG3’s games are half court and the court was set up as so; the arena looked smaller with only a half court there. But all the seats were still there.
BIG3 has 8 teams and plays an 8-game schedule across 8 NBA cities (then two weeks of playoffs). All 8 teams travel to each city and four games are played each Friday, so a ticket buys you a chance to see all the teams and players in one night. This is a big plus of BIG3’s setup; you see the entire product in one sitting.
Games go to 50 points by 2s and 3s; halftime is when a team reaches 25. There’s a 4-point shot that’s 28-30 feet from the hoop.
There’s a 14-second shot clock each possession. Shooting fouls (and penalty fouls) are one foul shot that’s worth 2 points. No two-shot fouls.
The games go by relatively quickly. There is no drag to the action.
We got there early and saw Carlos Boozer, Robert Hite and Nate Robinson warming up. They were all set to play in the first game of the night (start times: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm).
Nate is 5’9” and to me, inch-for-inch, just as athletic as LeBron James. Looking at Nate and similarly-sized Isaiah Thomas, these guys are the prototypes for the kind of athleticism you need to “make it” pro at their size.
As I was there as media, I had access to all the areas around the court during the games (though not walking on the court itself). My actual ticket was 31 rows up; the view was not ideal —
— But good thing I had Anna, a human passport with me: She first suggested we try finding better seats and daring an usher to kick us out of them. Over the course of the four games we sat in five different seats, four of those were fourth-row or better. Lesson: All rules are negotiable.
Michael Rapaport appeared to be a sideline reporter of sorts for BIG3 – the Doris Burke of the league. I don’t get a chance to talk to him, but just seeing him makes you think something funny is about to happen.
As media, we had access to postgame interview room, where 2-3 players (and maybe a coach) from the winning team would answer questions for 5-10 minutes. We were late to the room after Game 1 and missed Amare Stoudemire (I didn’t know he was playing in this) and Dr. J (Amare’s head coach). We did get Anna a photo with both though.
The second game was the highlight of the night for me, as I got to see the two players I was most excited to see play in BIG3: Stephen Jackson and Metta World Peace (bka Ron Artest). Down at halftime, the Killer 3s (coaches by cult hero Charles Oakley; Chauncey Billups and Ryan Hollins did not suit up) blitzed the Ball Hogs in the second half and won handily. My favorite moment though, happened in the postgame presser with Jackson and Metta. See my Instagram for more postgame press clips.
Anna snagged us some great seats for the Killer 3s game:
I wasn’t sure how popular a league for retired NBA players would be to fans who regularly get to see active NBA players playing. But by the third game of the night, the entire lower bowl of American Airlines Arena was full.
Rashad McCants and Quentin Richardson were going at it hard throughout a Game 3 that came down to the final possession.
McCants made what appeared to be the game-winning shot, replicate with post-shot gesturing and posing for cameras, before the shot was waved off for being after the shot clock had expired.
Team Power, behind Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Cuttino Mobley (a Philly native) ended up winning. QRich was quick to find and taunt McCants after securing the victory. McCants, who’s only 33 and probably closest to his athletic prime of any player in the league, just stalked off the floor immediately.
I was surprised when Birdman showed up with Cuttino to the presser, being that four of his teammates had scored more points than he. But he’s a legend in Miami, so it makes sense.
Power coach Nancy Lieberman was really fun to listen to after the game.
Cuttino came to my neighborhood playground when I was 15 and maybe a year into his NBA career and dominated games all night. He was the only guy there I had to get a photo with (elaborating IG post coming).
If you’re a hoops fan and haven’t been to BIG3 games yet, I would recommend you go — splurge for good seats (tickets aren’t as expensive as NBA games) and see four games in one night. The players even come and sit in (floor) seats after their games; maybe you can get a selfie with a few of them.
The BIG3 can be seen live on Friday nights at 8 pm ET on @FS1. A champion will be crowned live Aug. 24 on @FOX.