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Ice Cube brings Allen Iverson out of retirement for some BIG3 basketball

Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin are also among the legends lacing up for some 3-on-3

We’ve all felt the heartbreak of having to say goodbye to our favorite players gone to their retirement. When players are in their prime, we imagine they’ll play forever. And when they leave us, we believe the game will never see another like them.

Sometimes, we’re right.

But for all of the basketball fans who have longed for just one more season with their favorites, rapper, producer, actor and entrepreneur Ice Cube (yes, Ice Cube) is here to make your dream come true.

Ice Cube, an avid sports fan himself, came up with the idea after growing tired and frustrated with the early departure of some of the best players who have ever stepped onto a court. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s retirement last April was the proverbial last straw for Ice Cube. It was time to turn his ideas into reality.

“After Kobe retired, I was thinking about 3-on-3 basketball on another level, but when Kobe retired … I’m sick of it,” Ice Cube said in an interview with The Undefeated. “I seen Dr. J [Julius Erving] go, I seen Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] go, I seen Magic [Johnson] go, Shaq, Kareem, Kobe. I think those dudes left too soon. I think they still had game, they just couldn’t play 82 games. They just couldn’t play back-to-backs, three games in four nights. So we was like, let’s create a league where they can play again, and 3-on-3 basketball is actually the most competitive form of basketball played in the world.”

Ice Cube and Rashard Lewis attend BIG3 Press Conference on January 11, 2017 in New York City.

Robin Marchant/WireImage

Thus, the BIG3 was born.

Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz announced the league on Jan. 11. It was the brainchild of Ice Cube, who had been thinking about a professional 3-on-3, half-court basketball league for more than a year before setting a plan in motion. The league will feature eight teams of five players, one head coach and one assistant coach. Regular season games will take place each Saturday from June 24 through Aug. 12, with playoff games played on Aug. 19 and Aug. 26, according to the press release. Games, which will be won by the team that scores 60 points first, will take place each week in various arenas across country.

One of the most unique aspects of the league is that there are zero team owners, and players are set to earn 52 percent of revenue share, with a revenue split being determined by final league standings.

“I think the game is gonna stay competitive [because] 52 percent of the revenue will go to the players,” Ice Cube said. “If you win a championship, you get more of the money than everybody else. Second place and so on all the way to eighth place. Guys are playing for either a big chunk of the money or a little chunk of the money, but I think it’s a great incentive to give real play because what we didn’t want to do was put on an all-star game and not have a game. You know, we want All-Stars there playing hard.”

Though the mechanics of the league may change before its first game on June 24, Ice Cube is certain it’s something that will be fun, energetic, a bit nostalgic for the old heads and entertaining for the newer generation.

“We got to still simulate a few games to just see if that’s the format that we’re gonna stick with or if we’ll put a time limit on it. It depends on networks and what they’re really looking for. So the game will adjust a little between now and June 24, but we’re excited, man. And the players are excited and they feel like they need to take ownership of this and they are.”

Roger Mason Jr. (L) and Allen Iverson attend a press conference announcing the launch of the BIG3, a new, professional 3-on-3 basketball league, on January 11, 2017 in New York City.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for BIG3

So far, former players who have been chosen to lead their teams are Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups, Jermaine O’Neal, Kenyon Martin, Mike Bibby, Rashard Lewis, Jason Williams, Stephen Jackson and Bonzi Wells. Iverson, along with Gary Payton and George Gervin, will also serve as a coach to one of the league’s eight teams.

Creating a roster filled with NBA All-Stars and champions from the past is the way to represent, and though Ice Cube remains tight-lipped about who else will be joining the league in the coming months, he did disclose a number of players on his wish list.

“I would love for KG [Kevin Garnett] to join the league, and Ray Allen, Paul Pierce when he retires and Vince Carter – you know, the people we’ve grown to love,” Ice Cube said. “I believe once we get this inaugural season under our belt, people will see how fun it is and how cool it is and the kind of show we’re going to put on. All four teams playing in the same arena on the same night, so if you come to a BIG3 game, you’ll be able to see everybody you love, not just two teams but all eight teams. And we’re gonna go from city to city. If you want the BIG3 to come to your city, hit us up on Twitter or social media and we’ll try to make it happen.”

Learn more about the BIG3 and Ice Cube’s take on sports and his career in the latest episode of the All Day podcast with Clinton Yates, Jill Hudson, Justin Tinsley and Aaron Dodson.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.