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Does Ice Cube’s “Big3” Have Staying Power?

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With names such as Jason Williams, Jermaine O’Neal, and Kenyon Martin, Ice Cube debuted his new and somewhat innovative “Big3” three on three league this past Sunday. With plenty of questions regarding the new league, the win for the moment was in the fact that the league is on the lips on many basketball enthusiasts.

 

Founded by rapper/actor Ice Cube and entertainment industry exec. Jeff Kwatinetz, the line of thinking behind the new Big3 league is to showcase the last glimpses of NBA stars of the recent years who for one reason or another had to retire from the league.

Walking away from Sunday’s game, there were a few high points to take away from the on court presentation. For starters the attendance numbers were very similar to that of Brooklyn Nets games. The players seemed to have a good competitive energy going as well, with two games being concluded with buzzer beating baskets.

The games were played in a half court setting, with a 14 second shot clock, unlimited fouls, half time when a team scores 30 points and the end of the game when a team scores 60 points.

As possibly the most iconic face of the intersection between hip-hop and basketball, it seemed like a forgone conclusion NBA Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson would align himself with Big3 and Ice Cube as the unofficial face of the league.  Serving also as his team’s coach, Iverson was definitely the main attraction going in to Sunday’s games.

Allen Iverson playing for 3’s Company in Big3

Signaling the beginning of the concerns for Big3, Iverson attempted to downplay his sub par performance, attempting to embrace the coaching side of his player-coach label

“I signed up to be coach, player, [and] captain,” “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? Iverson told the Washington Post.

Aside from Iverson who took a large portion of the fans with him at his departure, there were many games in general, with teams going long stretches unable to score, and a few players having to remove themselves from play due to injury.

Just announcing the game point being reduced from 60 to 50, Big3 believes it’s ability to adjust on the fly is what sets it apart. With the games being televised via tape delay due to the extensive play time networks couldn’t afford to broadcast live, quick adjustments such as this are definitely a selling point that is going to appease many, but the league ultimately can’t control the health or the remaining athletic ability of it’s players who are the true selling point of this league. Finding the balance between quantity and quality given that the players can remain a viable denominator will be the ultimate deciding factor as to whether Big3 survives past this season.

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NBA G League Announces Player Salary Increase for Upcoming Season

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An official statement from the NBA G League came earlier Tuesday announcing an increase in base salaries from $26,000 to $35,000 and $77,250 from a previous $75,000 for players with a league based salary also known as a two-way contract. Additional money can also be earned by players through affiliate player bonuses and NBA call-ups in which an average player could be bringing in $85,000 and $385,000 for two-way contract players.

The NBA, who pays the G League salaries is experiencing some of the highest volumes of popularity it ever has, so naturally there would be a trickle down effect. Over the years the league has done it’s part in attempting to establish itself as a legit minor league system and grow its own brand whether it be through live game streams, or re-branding itself with Gatorade. Now with the increases in salary, the league is setting itself up to be on par with Europe to provide top high school talent with an alternative to the NCAA while providing a suitable income.

With 30% of NBA rosters containing G League players this season and the majority of the NBA teams having G League affiliates, there is a growing sense that its presence will only continue to grow. However there are still concerns that the average player still runs the risk of getting lost in the shuffle thinking back to the days of the G League when barely any call-ups were made. Ultimately the NBA’s willingness to help this league evolve into a growth and development “farm system” as opposed to a shelf for afterthoughts will be the deciding factor in their ability to draw emerging talent.

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Triple G Committed to May 5 Fight as Promoters Scramble to Finalize Details

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With the suspension of “Canelo” Alvarez by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for multiple failed drug tests in February, the team behind Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin is now making a concerted effort to make sure he will still be fighting on Cinco de Mayo. While the withdrawal of Alvarez is a letdown for the boxing world, Golovkin remains indifferent of the situation or who his potential next opponent will be.

“Now is my time. I’m ready to fight with anyone, we’ll see. I will be ready to fight on May 5 in Las Vegas,” Golovkin told ESPN Deportes. “Canelo withdrawal is not my problem, I’m ready to fight. I am a professional and I know how I should do things. It should not be a problem for me [to fight on May 5].”.

There still however remains concerns that the fight will even happen due to time to find a suitable opponent and to promote the event. Golovkin’s management seems to have already settled on moving the May 5th fight to the StubHub Center, nicknamed the “war grounds” in Carson, California which would be a far more intimate location in comparison to the MGM Grand Garden.

While the venue will play a big part in selling this fight, ultimately the obvious main draw would be the fighters. Boxing names such as Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Billy Joe Saunders have all been brought up, but no official decision has been made as of this moment.

“I’m not interested in fighting anyone else. Golovkin is the one I want. He keeps saying he wants to unify – well here I am and I’m ready to have it with him.” told Bad Left Hook.

Despite Saunders’ enthusiasm, O’Sullivan still seems to remain as the favorite to fight Golovkin, and Derevyanchenko is Golovkin’s International Boxing Federation mandatory opponent now that Alvarez has withdrawn.

Alvarez is set to meet with the Nevada Athletic Commission to hopefully get his suspension reduced to be able to face Golovkin later this year. Within the next week or so more concrete details of the uncertain Cinco de Mayo fight as well as the future of Alvarez-Golovkin should emerge.

 

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Villanova Takes Down Feisty Wolverines for Second Title in Three Years

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Closing out to yet another wild and unpredictable NCAA tournament, the Villanova Wildcats found themselves hoisting the championship trophy after a resounding 79-62 win over the Michigan Wolverines. The Wildcats joined some rare company after the win, being one of the few NCAA championship teams to win every game by double digits as well as one of the few two win multiple titles in a three-year span.

While the 17 point win would indicate Villanova more or less had their way, the Wolverines put up a good fight early on, holding the Wildcats to 1-9 shooting from three-point range and making timely buckets, specifically through big man Moritz Wagner. The turning point however came in the form of tonight’s most outstanding player, Donte DiVincenzo, who lifted his team with 31 points off the bench.

“Honestly I didn’t look at the score at all” DiVincenzo told ESPN. “I didn’t know how many points I had. I didn’t know any of that. I was just trying to make the right play. And Omari (Spellman) was setting unbelievable screens for me and getting me open. And I was just feeling it.”

Perhaps the loudest supporter of DiVincenzo tonight was national Player of the Year Jalen Brunson who only finished with just nine points, but in the fashion of a true leader, embraced what would benefit the whole as opposed to just himself.

“It just shows how much depth we have, and that we don’t care who gets the credit” said Brunson post game.

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Villanova guards Donte DiVincenzo (left) and Jalen Brunson (right) celebrating post game.

In a tournament filled with upsets, the Wildcats lived up to their ranking as a number one seed, showing their resiliency in every round, with every member of the team having a key role regardless of status. While the Wildcats year after year seem to always put competitive teams on the floor, it’s not until you start to pile up on titles that you begin to be talked about as an elite program, and the Villanova is definitely in that discussion now,

“When you come to Villanova,” said Villanova head coach Jay Wright post game. “You come because you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”.

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