On Sunday afternoon, Ice Cube and the BIG3 Organization paid a visit to Lexington and brought that unique approach of basketball the BIG3 offers with them. 8,009 fans packed in Rupp Arena, nearly filling up the lower arena to watch some of the retired greats from the NBA.
It was interesting for fans to see how the rules and regulations of the BIG3 Tournament played a part in how the court was set up. The half court style forced teams to step up and play defense, creating a more intense environment for both the fans and the players.
Playing three-on-three instead of the traditional five-on-five made the players work harder by having more responsibilities on the court, which made each individual competitive to win the game.
Also, the three 4-point circles behind the arc challenge players to gamble with a long shot, allowing Rupp to roar in excitement when it went in. All of the rules, being so different from any other organized basketball league, made it enjoyable for fans and something different to watch than the NBA.
As mentioned by Team Tri-State’s Bonzi Wells, “It reminds me of the old days,” referring to his days in the NBA.
The BIG3 also brought out plenty of celebrities who weren’t playing such as Sam Bowie, Rajon Rondo and Rex Chapman, who stole the attention with standing ovations and being bombarded with fans wanting pictures and autographs.
All of the excitement that surrounded the BIG3 event made the games enjoyable for all types of ages, including kids who might not be old enough to remember players such as Wells or Chapman.
When asking a group of kids what their favorite part of the games were, they responded, “To see up close professional players playing basketball was extremely cool.”
Players also got the opportunity to play in Rupp Arena, some for the first time.
“It’s a great place for basketball,” Kenyon Martin of Team Trilogy said.
Martin then went on to explain how he wanted to play at Kentucky for coach Rick Pitino, before he left for the Celtics and UK brought in Tubby Smith. Martin wound up choosing to play for Cincinnati.
A big take away from the players was that this league isn’t just fun and games. They expressed dearly that they’re thankful Ice Cube is giving them a second chance to play in front of their fans after being out of the NBA for so long.
They pointed out that it’s much more serious than we may realize, that each day they’re working to be in better shape and to perfect their craft to win ball games.
“I feel like this league will have many many more years to come,” Wells said.