Ice Cube has accused the NBA and ESPN of attempting to “destroy” his The Big 3 basketball league, pointing to the two entities’ refusal to acknowledge The Big 3’s innovations and contributions to the sport.
The 53-year-old rapper and actor’s allegations were revealed in his response to former NBA star and The Big 3 participant Stephen Jackson’s recent promotion of the league and its benefits on social media. “Appreciate you @DaTrillStak5. We definitely need everybody’s support,” Cube wrote in his own tweet this past Saturday (Oct. 15) while reposting a clip of the All The Smoke cohost’s comments. “The @nba and @espn are doing everything in their powers to ignore or destroy @thebig3.”
This isn’t the first instance in which Cube has sent shots at the NBA. In 2020, the former N.W.A. member alleged that the league had adopted The Big 3’s Elam rule as part of its All-Star game that year. The rule, which was implemented since The Big 3’s inaugural season in 2017, stipulates that the game clock is turned off after the first three quarters, with the first team to reach a predetermined score earning the victory. “The forward thinking of @thebig3 is taking our credit for helping the @NBA make the 4thQ of yesterday’s ASG one to remember,” Cube wrote in a tweet, which included a photo of The Big 3’s biggest stars. “Many will try to pull the Elam Rule out their asses, but we proved in 2017 that no game clock is the future. #nogarbageminutes.“
The Los Angeles native has also claimed that the NBA has taken efforts behind the scenes in order to stunt the growth of The Big 3, despite their outward support. “The NBA hasn’t been the nicest to the BIG3,” Cube shared in a 2021 interview with Basketball News. “Of course, publicly, they say all the right words. But we know privately, there’s things done behind the scenes [with] sponsors, broadcasters, blah blah blah… It did tarnish my fandom a bit.”
That same year, Cube spoke with VIBE about The Big 3’s partnerships with FOX and CBS, which the league owner says has helped boost the leagues visibility and credibility among casual fans.
“I think it’s been very essential in our climb,” he said. “We were on FOX our first two years, but some of the games were tape-delayed, so we would play on Sunday and they’d play ’em on Monday night. The second year, we went live on a few games but then we went to CBS and we were live from day one in 2019. Then we had the break. We were supposed to be on CBS in 2022, so now we’re back in 2021. It’s been great [and] high-profile for the league. Some of the games that weren’t on CBS were on Triller, FiteTV, so that platform has been great, too. We believe that it’s necessary to continue to [raise] the profile [of] the league to be very high on CBS.”
The Big 3 recently completed its fifth season, with the Stephen Jackson-coached Team Trilogy defeating Team Power, led by head coach and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman. Last week, The Big 3 was certified as a Black Owned business by ByBlack and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., news which Ice Cube reacted to in a statement.
“From day one, the league has been dedicated to providing opportunities for Black players, fans, investors, and partners and we are proud to be a part of a nationwide network of Black business owners,” he said.
ESPN and the NBA have yet to respond to Ice Cube’s allegations.