For its first three years, Ice Cube’s BIG3 Basketball League was a traveling road show, visiting different destinations every summer weekend.
For the 2022 season, which debuted on June 18, the league plays 3v3 its first two weeks in Chicago, and the last six of the regular season in Dallas.
The change in strategy is largely due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Although we are past the corner in the pandemic, we are not out of danger yet,” said Chris Hannan, CEO of BIG3. “So running around city to city with different kind of local and state regulations, it’s hard. So for us, the best thing for us was to keep moving while reducing the city total.”
Chicago and Dallas were chosen in part because of their central locations.
“Our coaches and players are all over the country,” said BIG3 Chairman Amy Trask.
It makes the logistics — which includes 72 players and coaches, including Dr. J, Gary Payton and George Gervin, who arrive every weekend — easier but not necessarily cheaper.
“In some ways, you’re just exchanging some expenses for others,” Trask said. “You don’t have to put the court, equipment, and uniforms on a truck and bring it somewhere else…but you have to find a place to store it.”
Trask, who previously served as the Raiders CEO from 1997 to 2013, and Hannan said the strength of the Dallas and Chicago sports markets made them ideal locations for the 2022 regular season games.
“They have been two pillars of BIG3 since 2017,” Hanan said.
In the 2019 regular season, Dallas hosted the BIG3 Ballout, which featured in-court performances by hip-hop artists T.I. and Yella Beezy and a series of clinics for area youth throughout the weekend.
“Marc Cuban welcomed us with open arms,” Trask said.
Limit Games to Comerica Center in Dallas, where the G League’s Texas Legends team plays, and Chicago, where the games are played at Credit Union 1 Arena on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, also made sense. Because of the loaded summer. Destinations across the country are enthusiastically hosting many indoor events once again, and securing arena space is becoming more and more difficult.
“It was dependent on the availability of the place,” Hanan said. “Concerts are back. Last summer, places haven’t been booked yet.”
After the 2022 regular season ends in Chicago and then Dallas, the BIG3 competitions are heading farther and farther east. Play-offs are scheduled to take place in Tampa and Atlanta, and then the resort of Atlantis in the Bahamas will host the All-Star Game.
“There is an influx of our season,” Hanan said.
A couple of years ago, BIG3 – like most other things in life – stopped flowing.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the league did not play in 2020.
Then, last year’s games were scheduled to be held in Las Vegas – a city with the facilities and infrastructure to create a bubbly atmosphere if needed and a destination within driving distance of Los Angeles, home to many employees, including the Ice Cube – and New York. Orleans, where BIG3 has strong connections.
When Covid-19 surged in New Orleans in 2021, the league had to move games to Dallas, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Looking ahead, next season should return to normal, and there is a strong chance that it will see an expansion of teams (12 to 16) and an expansion of its weekly destinations.
“Eventually we’ll be back in 15, 16 cities, but this year I’m really happy with our schedule.” Hanan said. “It was just a smart move for us this year.”