3-on-3 basketball in the Olympics: Five questions answered

Jay Busbee
Three-on-three basketball in 2015. (Getty file photo)
Three-on-three basketball in 2015. (Getty file photo)

Big news on the Olympic front today: three-on-three basketball, a sport that is exactly what it sounds like, will make its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Games. You know basketball, and you know the Olympics, but here are a few answers to the most common questions about this whiplash-speed sport.

Wait, three-on-three basketball? In the Olympics? Really?

Really. The International Olympic Committee has its flaws — standing by as cities spend themselves into decades’ worth of debt to host two-week events, for one — but it’s also recognizing that sports like dressage (you know, horse dancing) don’t exactly resonate with today’s limited-attention-span, screen-obsessed youth. The solution: basketball, TO THE EXXXTREME.

Fine. How does it work?

Each game is 10 minutes long, no halftime, no break, no timeouts. The shot clock is 12 seconds, so no four-quarters garbage here. Oh, and the game is half-court. In other words: no transition offense, no wasted time, nowhere to hide.

The U.S. will totally dominate, right?

Maybe. But keep in mind that the rest of the world has been playing this style of ball for years now — there’s an entire 3-on-3 worldwide tour that culminates this fall in Beijing. Overconfidence about America’s basketball abilities versus the rest of the world has gotten Team USA in trouble before.

Come on. We roll out Russell Westbrook, James Harden, KD and …

Theoretically, yeah, but those cats will likely either be taking some time off or playing for Team USA. That leaves the door open for recent retirees, undrafted college greats, and playground icons to scrap for spots on the team. (Each team has four players, three starters and one substitute, meaning everybody gets plenty of PT.)

Plus, let’s not forget the bizarre new “Big 3” basketball league, involving Ice Cube, Dr. J, and Allen Iverson, that’s getting off the ground. That could be the proving ground for an Olympic team. Stranger things have happened. Not many, but a few.

This is going to be goofy.

That’s not a question.

OK. Is this going to be just a ridiculous pounding-music pandering pseudo-sport?

Funny, the same arguments creaked forth against beach volleyball, but that’s turned into one of the most popular events at the Summer Games. Our guess? Three-on-three is going to become one of the most-watched, and most-emulated, events at the Tokyo Games. We can’t wait.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.