Ice Cube. Allen Iverson. Dr. J. Hand-checking. Trash talk. 4-point shots.
Basketball is back, and it's going to be good.
We're not talking about the game you're used to seeing on television. You won't find endless timeouts, soft players or refs trying to make themselves the stars of the show in the BIG3.
To make it in this 3-on-3 basketball tournament presented by media icon Ice Cube and featuring some of the best to play the game, you have to be able to take it just as well as you can dish it out.
This inaugural season lasts 10 weeks, with games played on Sunday and airing every Monday — starting tonight, June 26, at 8:00 PM ET on FS1 and FOX Sports GO.
Here's everything you need to know about the biggest basketball event of the summer.
Let's start with how the BIG3 is different than the professional basketball you know and love.
Obviously, the game's are played 3-on-3. You know that much already.
They're also halfcourt with a 14-second shot clock, and the first team to 60 wins. We're going by twos and threes, plus a four-point shot we'll get to in a second. Once a team scores 30 points, we get a halftime break. Each game starts with a half-court, do-or-die shootout instead of a jump ball.
Oh, and you have to win by two.
While there will be plenty of trash talk, technical fouls do exist. The penalty for a T is steep — two shots and the ball for your opponent — so try not to get on the refs' bad side, gentlemen.
Speaking of free throws: a player only takes one shot from the stripe in every other situation. If you're fouled on a two-pointer, you get one free throw worth two points. On a 3-pointer, your one freebie is worth three points, and a foul on a four-pointer results in one four-point shot.
There's a catch, though. Those three- and four-point free throws come from behind the arc and at the 4-point spot, respectively, instead of from the free-throw line.
There are three four-point shots, actually, as you can see in the image above. A player's foot has to be touching any part of one of those circles when he rises and fires for the bucket to count for four points.
Players can't foul out. All fouls are team fouls, and in the BIG3 foul bonus, teams get two one-point free throws and the ball after the fourth team foul of each half.
If you've played halfcourt basketball before, the rest of the rules will seem familiar. The ball gets checked up top by the official on a made basket. It's not make it, take it; the team that scores goes on defense, and the team that was scored on can start play by dribbling or passing it inbound. You get five seconds to do so.
A defensive rebound that touches the rim has to be cleared beyond the 3-point line — with both feet — which can be done by dribbling or passing. If a rebounder passes the ball out to clear it, he has to get out of the lane before the ball hits the rim on his team's subsequent shot. Neither steals nor airballs have to be cleared.
There's no defensive "3 second" rule, although the typical offensive "3 in the key" still exists.
Simple enough, right?
Those rules are meant to give us the most entertaining game — and the best basketball — possible. The BIG3 is about two groups of people, after all: fans and players.
Just ask Ice Cube and league Commissioner and President Roger Mason, Jr.:
“The BIG3 was created as the ultimate basketball fanexperience," Cube said when the league was announced. "We’re bringing some of the baddest names to ever play the game, and giving them a platform to not only showcase their skills, but to entertain their fans in a high-energy, physical and competitive environment. As a diehard basketball fan, I personally can’t wait to see my favorite players back in action.”
“The BIG3 puts a special emphasis on the players, and they are an integral part of its function,” added Mason, Jr. “From the coaching, to the team selection and the games themselves — the league is player powered. We’re excited for the players to have such an active role in the BIG3 and look forward to a successful partnership.”
To that end, the players are vying for a bigger share of the money made by the league. According to the BIG3 website, "players [earn] a 52 percent revenue share. The revenue split will be determined by the final league standings, including postseason results in order to maximize competitiveness between the teams."
Bragging rights and cash are on the line, which should have everyone bringing their A-game.
Now that you know everything about the league, let's get to the participants.
Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.AP
Each of the eight teams features five players and a reserve, with several teams helmed by player-coaches such as Allen Iverson of 3's Company or Charles Oakley of the Killer 3s, captained by Chauncey Billups and Stephen Jackson.
Julius "Dr. J" Erving won't be suiting up for Tri-State, but he will coach Jermaine O'Neal and Bonzi Wells' squad.
The BIG3 tournament includes some of the best logos in the world, too, like the 3 Headed Monsters featuring Rashard Lewis and coached by Gary Payton, and Trilogy, led by captain Kenyon Martin and coach and former Bad Boy Piston Rick Mahorn.
Ghost Ballers should put on a show in their own right, with Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis taking the reins on the court while the Iceman, George Gervin, looks on from the bench.
The Ball Hogs probably won't shoot under-hand free throws from the 4-point circle despite Rick Barry's presence on the sideline, while Clyde Drexler coaches Corey Maggette, NBA champion DeShawn Stevenson, and co-captain Cuttino Mobley for the Power.
FOX Sports broadcaster Gus Johnson will call play-by-play, and he will be joined by FS1 basketball analyst and former NBA star Jim Jackson in the booth. Actor and comedian Michael Rapaport will hold down sideline commentary duties.
The BIG3 season will tour all across the country with all eight teams playing on a given day. Week 1 started in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Sunday, and the regular season comes to a close on Sunday, Aug. 13 at Staples Center in Los Angeles for Week 8. The Week 9 playoffs take place at Key Arena in Seattle, and the grand championship will come to you from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, Aug. 26, and will be broadcast live on the FOX broadcast network.