By Evan Kinser, June 23rd, 2019 5:09 pm EST
The third season of Ice Cube’s BIG3 league made one of its first stops on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.
Following an impressive showing in Detroit the night before-14,235 fans made their way to Little Caesars Arena- the league is hoping for an even bigger showing today in Indy.
In Detroit, NBA fans were able to see some of the best players of the early 2000’s lace ‘em up for one more time with stars like Lamar Odom, Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Josh Smith, and Gilbert Arenas all in attendance for Saturday’s games.
The way the BIG3 is set up is that half of the teams (six) will show up to a city on Saturday, and the remaining six will be playing the following day, equaling three games per city. Once a team reaches 25 points, then there will be a halftime break. Once a team scores 50 points, then they are crowned the winner.
The first game featured the Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson-led Triplets as well as the Andre Owens and Greg Oden-led Aliens. The star power went beyond the players, with coaches Nate “Tiny” Archibald (Aliens) and WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie (Triplets) leading the way for their respective teams.
The Aliens started the game out hot, going up 14-2 after former #1 overall NBA Draft pick Greg Oden threw down some monster dunks and former #1 overall BIG3 Draft pick Andre Owens connected on a few shots. As it looked like the lead may get out of hand, the Triplets started to warm up and were able to get the lead below six, facing just a 26-20 deficit at the halftime break.
After the break, the Triplets went on a 10-0 run to get a 4 point lead with all of the points coming from the two biggest names in the game: Al Jefferson and Joe Johnson. Throughout the remainder of the game, seven time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson continued to put on a show and reminded fans of why his nickname in the NBA was always “Iso Joe,” with several post-ups ending in two points.
To close the game, the Triplets went with Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, and Alan Anderson, and they were able to get the needed stops to put Joe Johnson in position to close the game out with a three and then scoring the game-winning floater. When I asked Joe if he believed he could finish the game out if the team closed the deficit, he said, “I was very confident. You know, in the first half we had great looks but we just couldn’t make shots. In the second half we kind of settled in a little bit, we knocked down shots, got defensive stops and once we were points from game, I knew we were gonna win.”
In game two, the Killer 3’s and Tri-State faced off, making for another great game.
The Killer 3’s were led by former NBA players Eddy Curry and Josh Powell, and Tri-State featured former NBA stars Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Jason Richardson, and Bonzi Wells.
Both teams were without a player captain, as former Pacers Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson missed the game.
Like in the previous game, the coaches for each team were stars in their playing days: Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Charles Oakley. Just knowing the names of these coaches can tell you all you need to know about this game: it was scrappy.
Charles Oakley, known throughout his NBA career as a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, wants to win anyway possible. The same can be said about Dr. J, who won MVP awards in both the NBA and ABA, but also won two ABA championships and one NBA championship.
With the Killer 3’s roster changing dramatically from last year to this year, there was definitely an adjustment period for the team. Last year’s roster featured NBA All-Stars Metta World Peace and Chauncey Billups to go along with Stephen Jackson, but today’s roster did not feature any of those three players.
Though Tri-State struggled early, they were able to close the half strong by going on a 22-7 run to secure a 26-17 lead at the half. The main catalyst in putting Tri-State in that position was six time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire. After putting up 8.8 ppg in the BIG3 last year, Amar’e was ready to show that he could still do a lot of the things that made him an elite player throughout his 14 years in the NBA. He finished with 28 points on the day.
The ending of the game was definitely in dramatic fashion as former Sacramento King Donte Green hit the game winning three to give the Killer 3’s the two point victory. BIG3 rules are that you have to win by 2, and after trailing 52-51, he knocked down the biggest shot of the day to bring his team to victory.
In the third and final game of the day, the Ball Hogs and Ghost Ballers squared off. The stars of the game were Brian Scalabrine (Ball Hogs), DeShawn Stevenson (Ball Hogs), Mike Bibby (Ghost Ballers), and Ricky Davis (Ghost Ballers). Former NBA All-Star Carlos Boozer was not available to play for the Ghost Ballers.
The coaches for this game certainly did not disappoint either, with Rick Barry and George “The Iceman” Gervin.
This game was tight for the entirety of the first half, with the Ghost Ballers having the slight 26-23 edge, but the Ball Hogs were hampered by injury with Jermaine Taylor leaving in the first few minutes of the game and DeShawn Stevenson, who was limping at the end of the first.
The second half was much of the same, with the teams trading buckets throughout; but there was one difference in this half and the rest of the games that were played today: four point shots. The Ghost Ballers were the only team to attempt a four-pointer, which is one of the special things about the BIG3. The shot is about 5 feet back from the three-point line, and it can get you back into a game very quickly. Though they didn’t connect on these, it was still a really cool thing to see.
The Ghost Ballers were able to extend the lead to nine with the score being 42-33 after a cold stretch by the Ball Hogs, and were able to hit shot after shot at the end with the game being decided by a put-back courtesy of Jamario Moon. The Ghost Ballers were victorious in the final game by a score of 50-39.
*Former Indiana Hoosier and Houston Rocket Eric Gordon was in attendance and was welcomed by the fans with a loud roar.
*Ice Cube was welcomed by Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett and was thanked for bringing the BIG3 to the city.