This week in BIG3: Game-winners, injuries, boos and barely any Allen Iverson

Ball Don't Lie
Ice Cube gives his own BIG3 basketball league two enthusiastic thumbs up. (AP)
Ice Cube gives his own BIG3 basketball league two enthusiastic thumbs up. (AP)

Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league debuted in Brooklyn on Sunday and will be held across the country weekly throughout the summer, but broadcasts are tape-delayed Mondays on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. So, each week we’ll recap the highs and lows of what expects to be a wild basketball experiment.

[Follow Ball Don’t Lie on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr]

Scroll to continue with content

There were two game-winners.

DeShawn Stevenson, perhaps best known for wearing a “Hey LeBron! How’s my Dirk taste?” T-shirt and getting arrested for public intoxication after his Dallas Mavericks won the 2011 NBA championship, hit a walk-off 3-pointer in the afternoon’s second game. (Games are played to 60. His team won, 62-58.)

Rashard Lewis hit a less-exciting free throw to win the day’s opener, 62-60 (win by two). More exciting, though, was word that Lewis trash-talked Ricky Davis, who committed the foul that led to the and-one.

Afterwards, Lewis said of his trash-talking, “I’m not about to get kicked out of the league.”

If Cube had foretold the oftsuspended Stevenson and Lewis would hit game-winners in the league’s first two contests, celebrating as if they were still in their primes (save for public drunkenness) and mocking a guy who made a mockery of the NBA in the process, we might have signed up for that.

A lot of people did sign up for that.

A crowd of 15,177 showed up for the league’s debut in Brooklyn, roughly the same as an average Nets game. Among the crowd were Whoopi Goldberg, LL Cool J, James Harden, Paul Pierce and D’Angelo Russell, the last of whom was just traded to the Nets and welcomed to Brooklyn with “lots of boos”:

And Russell wasn’t the only one to hear it from the 85 percent capacity crowd at Barclays Center. Scarce play from the face of the league and long stretches of scoreless basketball also drew criticism .

Allen Iverson only played nine minutes.

The BIG3’s most high-profile participant, Iverson finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting in limited action, serving mostly as the latter portion of his player-coach title. Here’s his one make:

Iverson obliged fans who started a “We want A.I.” chant in the first half, checking himself into the game, and then reportedly ignored the same chants in the second half. At least there was a “duel” between Iverson and Brian Scalabrine, who defended each other and respectively wore “The Answer” and “White Mamba” on the backs of their jerseys. Scalabrine finished with two points on three shots.

That photo is a lot more compelling then their combined stat lines in 23 of the event’s almost 360 minutes. Meanwhile, their teams reportedly treated a restless crowd to a brutal stretch of basketball:

The crowd thinned considerably after Iverson’s game, and The Answer’s postgame press conference did few favors for a league that is still billing him as the marquee attraction in nine more cities:

“I signed up to be coach, player, [and] captain,” said Iverson, according to The Washington Post. “The coach part is going to go on throughout the game. The playing part is not going to be what you expect. I’m 42 years old, been retired, what, six, seven years? The only reason I get out there for the couple minutes I do get out there is for the fans, you know what I mean?

“You’re not going to see the Allen Iverson of old out there.”

Iverson added, via the New York Post: “Cube wanted me to be the face of the whole thing, and I was like, ‘All right, cool’ … but there was excitement all throughout. It didn’t need Allen Iverson the player, per se.”

Four of the league’s forty-something 40-plus-year-olds suffered injuries.

Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, 41, suffered a scary non-contact knee injury in the day’s first game:

His coach, Hall of Famer Gary Payton, quickly announced Williams would be back in a fortnight:

This video of Williams writhing in pain on the Barclays Center court disagrees:

Rashad McCants, who was the league’s No. 1 overall pick last month, also suffered a leg injury in his BIG3 debut, as did team captains Corey Maggette and Kenyon Martin. Still, the 39-year-old Martin insisted age wasn’t a factor in his injury. “It’s got nothing to do with that,” he told The Washington Post. “Something happened. I reached wrong, and I pulled it. You know how many loose balls I’ve reached for in 15 years [in the NBA]? I’ve been playing basketball since I was 10 … I’ve never did this.”

Cuttino Mobley offered an alternative viewpoint, telling the New York Post he had “no clue” the last time he played competitive basketball. Mobley, a co-captain in the league, shot 5-of-20 from the field.

Mike Bibby made a couple four-pointers.

And that’s something we haven’t seen since the heyday MTV Rock N’ Jock basketball.

Speaking of Rock N’ Jock, former participant Michael Rapaport is the BIG3’s sideline reporter, and Scalabrine is tired of being compared to the actor. This might be the best rivalry the league has going:

Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams showed up in a Bane mask.

So, there’s that.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf continued his National Anthem statement.

Before Colin Kaepernick ever protested “The Star-Spangled Banner,” there was Abdul-Rauf, who sat out the anthem as a member of the Denver Nuggets in the 1990s, calling the American flag a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny.” He was briefly suspended from the NBA, before he and the league reached a compromise that allowed him to stand and pray, eyes closed and hands out, during the anthem.

Abdul-Rauf, now 48, did the same before shooting 3-of-9 from the field in the event’s opening game.

The reintroduction of Abdul-Rauf and his voice as a prominent Muslim man to a new generation of basketball fans might have been the most important achievement of the BIG3’s opening weekend.

Abdul-Rauf spoke at length about his support for Kaepernick in an interview with The Undefeated.

“When a person like Kaepernick or anybody else comes and stands out against anything that is contrary to what image they want you to have as an athlete, then they will make an example of you because they want to discourage other athletes from doing the same thing. And that’s just my take on it. And it doesn’t surprise me. It’s just sad. You are hoping that it will galvanize us as people and say, look we not going to tolerate this anymore, period. You ain’t going to do this to this person, and then especially when you see blatant examples of when you’re white or other people doing things that are even worse. I’m talking about assault, battery, rape, whatever and nothing happens. But he speaks out as an activist and you want to deny him access to a profession that he has been training most of his life for, it’s not like he can just pick up right now and go and become an engineer and a doctor. And you are trying to take his livelihood away just because of that when you see all of these other examples.”

As for the action on the court, Clyde Drexler called the BIG3 the world’s best non-NBA league.

“This is going to be something special,” said Drexler, via Newsday. “Outside the NBA, this is the most competitive basketball league in the world.”

The Hall of Fame player turned BIG3 coach has apparently never seen basketball outside the NBA.

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next