With the BIG3 coming to Boston this Friday, a conference call was held to preview the games and answer questions from the media. I had the privilege of being on this call, along with NBA Hall of Famer and BIG3 commissioner, Clyde Drexler, Co-Founder of the BIG3, Jeff Kwatinetz, and Chairman, Amy Trask.
The call started with Clyde Drexler recapping the night of games in Toronto the week prior. Drexler announced that Andre Emmett from 3’s Company was player of the week with 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Emmett is a good example of the BIG3 having relative unknowns sometimes outplay the former all-stars. He also talked about the Young 3, which is something the BIG3 does in every city they go to as they help the communities grow. Amy Trask also explained that over four dozen countries are represented in the BIG3, and they look to expand in the upcoming seasons.
The call was then open to questions from the media.
The first question was what the people of the BIG3 think of some of the comparisons to the BIG3 and the old-time games that were played in the NBA during all-star break.
Clyde Drexler: “This is not old-time basketball. These guys are young and fresh out of the NBA. Most of them can still compete in the NBA. If the NBA put together 3-on-3 teams, they would have trouble competing with the BIG3. This is not Uncle Drew. These guys can play. The BIG3 will only continue to grow.”
Amy Trask: “Come to a game or tune in because Jeff and Ice Cube have skeptics. The skeptics went to a game and told Ice Cube that they were right; the league is competitive.”
The next reporter asked if the players were embracing the four-point shot.
Jeff Kwatinetz: “I think they are embracing it the right way. They are not using it as a novelty. They are taking them when they are open and it makes sense. The reason why we have a circle, not a line, is because we wanted to open the game.”
Amy Trask: “It was a lot of fun to see a game won on a four-point shot a few weeks ago.”
Clyde Drexler: “Because the shot is a circle, if you put a guy out there who can make it, the defense will have to stretch. It gives the guy with the ball a lot more room to operate if you have a great shooter on your team.”
The next question was how does the BIG3 perceive the amount of “chippiness” in the games.
Clyde Drexler: “Guys are competitive, trying to win, and are trying to get away with whatever they can get away with. We added a third official to take away from that chippiness because we want the game to be about the sport of basketball. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, and it has helped a lot. It has become more of a pure game of basketball. Still physical, but not so much of the chippiness.”
Jeff Kwatinetz: “I think the chippiness comes from the competitiveness and wanting to win. Also remember the nature of 3-on-3 puts big emphasis on defense. In the NBA, there are a lot of fast breaks and wide open shots. But in the BIG3, it is a physical demand to play defense. Some guys are not used to being defended so tightly that they do not like it.
I asked “How would you describe the process of signing former NBA all-stars and DPOY candidates to the BIG3 this past off-season?”
Jeff Kwatinetz: “The biggest reason is that the players that played in the first year enjoyed it and had a positive experience. That word gets around and gets other people wanting to play. A lot of the guys that come in are not done playing pro basketball. It is something they enjoy doing and competing. A lot of people did not get the vision right away. But they wanted to do it once they saw it was real pro basketball.”
Clyde Drexler: “We tried to get Kobe Bryant. We tried to get Paul Pierce. For everyone who leaves the NBA, everyone in the BIG3 will be calling them. They love the game, and ten weeks in the summer is not a big commitment to a lot of the guys. The league is for the players, is fun, and is very competitive. Everyone wants to be a part of the BIG3.”
Jeff Kwatinetz: “It is a very different league. There is a lot of strategy in it with the way the BIG3 plays. It is a hard process as you need to get in shape, which eliminates a lot of guys who are actually done. We are getting the guys who understand the commitment involved.”
My follow up question was, “With a lot of former Boston Celtics in the BIG3 this year, what kind of reaction are you guys expecting from the fans on Friday?”
Clyde Drexler: “Boston has some of the greatest sports fans in the world. Danny Ainge and the Celtics are the best team and have the best general manager in the eastern conference. They love basketball in Boston. The BIG3 is an extension of that great basketball history. I hope they all come out and enjoy the phenomenon that is BIG3 basketball. Nobody expected the BIG3 to be this popular or this good of a game. The game is very serious and the guys want to win. We have celebrities, we have the humor. Our coaches are mic’ed, which gives you a good feel of being on the floor. This is all great, innovative stuff that made the sport a summer phenomenon. I hope the fans of Boston will come out and experience it live.”
Amy Trask: “We have also placed tremendous emphasis on making the venue experience very family friendly. Our players and coaches always interact with the fans throughout the games. We offer what most leagues do not offer: a very interactive experience for the fans.”
This was the majority of the conference call for the BIG3. Clyde Drexler, Jeff Kwatinetz, and Amy Trask gave everyone some very thought-out answers on the call. If you want to see a more in-depth preview of the BIG3 in Boston, check out my article here.