We're all excited for the former NBA players who will play in Ice Cube's BIG3 League — and the news that the games will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. And with all due respect to Kwame Brown and Jannero Pargo, it's not guys like them who have us eagerly awaiting the June 25 debut at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. It's the stars and also the coaches — who include Dr. J, Clyde Drexler and Gary Payton, and we hope will surprise us and lace 'em up at some point.
Here are the top 21 guys we'll be buying tickets to see, now that that third straight Cavs-Warriors Finals has come to an end.
OK, before you toss your phone in disgust at the idea Scalabrine ever was a star, just relax. No argument here. But the guy was a fan favorite in Boston — that should make you want to show up just to boo him — and had several awesome nicknames: The White Mamba, Veal Scalabrine, The Ginger Ninja.
Signature moment:His interviews after the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. Didn't play a single minute and still owned it. (And provided a preview of his post-playing career behind the mic.)
Getty ImagesArturo Presotto - Iguana Press
Al — not to be mistaken for Othella — Harrington was many things in his 18-year (!) NBA career: valuable Pacers sixth man, prolific scorer for bad Knicks teams, big man in We Believe Warriors lineup, guy traded for more talented guys. But one thing he wasn't? Someone we wouldn't watch. He'll co-captain a team called Trilogy with Kenyon Martin.
Have you ever met a Rashard Lewis fan? The answer likely is no, but that doesn't change the fact that Lewis was a star during nine seasons in Seattle, then helped the Heat reach the Finals two straight times, winning a ring in 2013. Now he'll be co-captains with Jason Williams on a team called 3 Headed Monsters. Is it possible the best is yet to come?
Signature moment: Signing a $118 million contract with Orlando in 2007. One of the first mega-deals that was completely indefensible from the moment pen hit paper.
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Hughes played for eight teams, it just seems like it was more. He was involved in not one, not two but THREE blockbuster, three-team trades in his career — and never took his new team to the playoffs. He helped LeBron and the Cavs reach the Finals in 2007, if it's possible to help a team while shooting 35 percent. But he was Larry Hughes. Tantalizing talent that teams kept taking a chance on. Now it's the Killer 3s' turn.
Signature moment: In his 10th game with the Warriors since being traded by Philadelphia — where he was doing nothing backing up Allen Iverson — Hughes went for 41 against Kobe and the Lakers. He averaged 22.7 points in 32 starts at the end of the 1999-2000 season — the high-water mark of his career. He was 22.
We'll always remember Bibby (10) as the pesky point guard on those Sacramento Kings teams that just couldn't get over the hump against the Lakers. Then at the end of his career, he gave the last good minutes left in him to that Miami Heat team that lost to the Mavs in the Finals. Guy just couldn't get a break — or a ring. Bibby and Ricky Davis are co-captains of a team called Ghost Ballers, so don't expect his title drought to end anytime soon.
Anderson was a New York high school legend who never got to play for the Knicks. Instead he toiled in New Jersey for four-plus years before moving on to eight more teams in 10 years. In his only playoff run that lasted more than one series, with the Celtics in 2002, he ended up getting eliminated in the East finals by ... New Jersey. He needs one more shot at glory; too bad it's not on a team with Sebastian Telfair and other New York prodigies.
Signature moment: When he was drafted No. 2 overall in 1991, behind only Larry Johnson.
Wells wasn't just loved for his nickname and athleticism as a 6-5 tweener. He also was an incorrigible bad-ass, a key member of the Jail Blazers teams whose reputation for being a troublemaker followed him to every team he was traded to. That talent, though ...
Signature moment: Getting dumped by Portland as the team tried to clean up its act. It wasn't the last time he'd be purged.
Remember when Shaq wasn't the only O'Neal roaming the paint? It wasn't that long ago that Jermaine O'Neal was doing battle with Kevin Garnett and other legendary big men. The 18-year-old straight out of high school ended up going to the playoffs 13 straight seasons — a longer streak than his buddy Kobe Bryant ever had — and could've had an even greater career if not for injuries.
Signature moment: Flattening a Detroit fan who ran up on him during the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004. If O'Neal would play with Stephen Jackson on a team called Malice in the Palace, we'd get season tickets ... and boxing lessons. For now, he's playing with Bonzi Wells — that could be pretty wild, too.
Two words: Kobe Stopper.
Patterson was a second-round pick by the Lakers in 1998, but left after one season to find his destiny as the guy who claimed he could stop Kobe Bryant. And gave himself the aforementioned nickname. To his point, Patterson did develop a reputation for playing tough defense. (That and being a member of the Jail Blazers.) Someone get Kobe to join this league.
Signature moment: The 2002 playoffs, Patterson's only playoff series against the Lakers. Kobe averaged 26 points on 35.2 percent shooting, but the Blazers got swept 3-0 in the first round.
While some may be most interested to see if Rauf renews his national anthem protest from 20 years ago — yeah kids, he was doing it back when Colin Kaepernick was protesting having to take out the trash — we'll be watching to see if he still can light it up like Steph Curry. Abdul-Rauf just turned 48 but it looks like he's still got it.
Signature moment: Abdul-Rauf's anthem protest and his incendiary comments about the flag — "It's also a symbol of oppression and tyranny, so it depends on how you look at it. You can't stand for both. You can't be for God and oppression" — which he believes got him black-balled by NBA owners and execs.
He dunked. He rapped. He was the NBA's rowdy J.R. before J.R. Smith. The Association just was too strict back then, which is why he was out of a job at age 30, even though he still could hoop. At least he retired with a ring, getting one with the Lakers in 2001 even though they left him off their playoff roster. It's time to write the long-delayed final chapter of his hoops career.
Signature moment: Duh. The "East Bay Funk Dunk" that won him the Slam Dunk Contest in 1994 — as he predicted he'd win it when he was drafted. Between the legs. Game over.
Ricky Davis never saw a shot Ricky Davis didn't like. Ricky Davis believed LeBron James was drafted by Cleveland to get Ricky Davis more shots. That's not an actual fact, but it's an undeniable truth. Ricky Davis gets buckets. Now he and Mike Bibby are Ghost Ballers. Can't make this stuff up.
Billups may not have been an above-the-rim star or a long-distance gunner with no conscience, but he was CLUTCH. That's why he earned the nickname "Mr. Big Shot". A late-bloomer in the league, he broke through in his sixth season — with his fourth team — and became the Pistons' point guard for six seasons. He went to the playoffs 11 straight seasons and was MVP of the 2004 Finals as underdog Detroit slayed a Lakers superteam. The Pistons traded him for Allen Iverson in 2008 — that's one matchup we're eagerly awaiting. Billups will team with Stephen Jackson and player/coach Charles Oakley on a team called Killer 3s. Really.
Signature moment: Reaching the conference finals for seven straight seasons. He was the only non-Celtics or Lakers player to do it until LeBron this year.
S-Jax didn't have an easy path to the pros, passing through community college, the CBA and various countries before reaching the NBA in 2000 and winning a championship with the Spurs in 2003. He went on to become a key part of two Pacers playoff teams and the We Believe Warriors, averaging 22.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals in their first-round upset of the Mavericks. Now he's part of the Killer 3s with Chauncey Billups and player/coach Charles Oakley.
Signature moment: A tie between the Warriors' upset of the Mavs, and going into the crowd in Detroit to help Ron Artest pummel Pistons fans.
The New Jersey Nets reached the Eastern Conference finals three straight seasons, and the NBA Finals twice, with Jason Kidd throwing lobs to K-Mart. (Note to BIG3: You need J-Kidd.) Martin then went to Denver and reached the playoffs six more seasons — missing only once due to injury. Guy was a winner, despite what George Karl may say about him. Hard dunks and hard fouls.
Earl Boykins, who at 5-5 was the second-shortest player in NBA history behind Muggsy Bogues, had the heart of a giant. Undrafted, he played with 10 teams in a 13-year career and finished with a higher shooting percentage than Chauncey Billups (pictured here). That should make Chaunce want to take him into the post.
Stevie Franchise was all crossovers, dunks and attitude, making him perfect for this league. If he teamed up with Yao Ming, Chinese fans might drive ratings through the roof.
Signature moment: Being traded for Tracy McGrady.
Fans who remember Sprewell as a choker (literally) are forgetting he was an athletic, slashing 20-point scorer with the Warriors. Became more of a grinder in New York, where he's still beloved, then helped make Minnesota a winner ... and told owner Glen Taylor that $21 million couldn't feed his family. The guy showed up to play, though, never appearing in fewer than 69 games except for his suspension year and the lockout season of 1998-99.
Signature moment: Choking coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice in 1997, which earned him a 68-game suspension. Anyone notice there are a lot of bad-asses in this league?
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Anyone notice there are a lot of bad-asses in this league? Oakley's days as an enforcer aren't over — he'll serve as a player/coach for the Killer 3s with Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson and Larry Hughes (ostensibly the "Killer" in that group). Probably come off the bench to clothesline someone into the front row. He showed Knicks security he's not to be trifled with even at age 53. Now if we can just get Rick Mahorn to add "player" to his coaching role, or recruit Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, James Dolan or some other worthy opponent to join the league, we could see a real '90s-era brawl.
They called him White Chocolate. His handle was the stuff of legend. He threw playground-style passes in games. He still does. Williams may not make the Hall of Fame, but he's first-ballot in the Hall of Very Watchable. Even on a team with Rashard Lewis called 3 Headed Monsters.
Do we need to say anything? The Answer is a player/coach for a team called 3's Company (apparently getting 3 into the name is a league rule). His co-captain is DerMarr Johnson, so he still has no supporting cast. If AI wins a title, it'll be equivalent to him taking that sorry Sixers team to the Finals in 2001.