It’s official: 3-on-3 basketball added to Tokyo Olympics


You, me, and everyone who has played a lot of pick-up basketball has spent as much or more time in a half-court game as they have full-court 5-on-5. You know the rules scoring by 1 or 2, games are to 21, and if the other team misses a shot you have to clear it beyond the three-point line before you can shoot.

Now that game is coming to the Olympics.

As expected, the International Olympic Committee has voted to include 3×3 basketball in the Olympics, starting in 2020 in Tokyo. There will be men’s and women’s divisions. FIBA, the international governing body of basketball, has tried to grow this version of the sport, seeing the potential of something like beach volleyball. To that end, there is even a 3-on-3 world cup that tips off in a couple of weeks in France.

There is also a 3-on-3 league coming to the USA this summer — the Big3. Put together by Ice Cube and some investors, it will feature a number of former NBA players in sort of a barnstorming tour of the USA. The league has potential and tips off June 25.

“We would like to commend the Olympics for making 3-on-3 basketball, the most played sport in the world, an official Olympic sport starting at Tokyo 2020,” Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, co-Founders of the BIG3, said in a released statement. “We have worked tirelessly for the last two years to get the most loved game in the world played by some of the most skilled, brilliant players in the world broadcast on a professionally recognized stage. This announcement by the International Olympic Committee comes at a perfect time, with the BIG3 10-game season tipping off in less than three weeks on June 25 Barclays Center in Brooklyn.”


While the Olympic version of 3×3 half-court hoops has a lot of similarities to your local park pick-up game, it has some differences too. There’s a 12-second shot clock, and play never stops — after a made basket the team that gave up the bucket gets the ball and clears it out to the arc then can instantly start. There’s no make-it-and-take-it rule, and the ball does not have to be checked before play starts. Also, there is a 10-minute time limit, in case nobody gets to 21. It’s basically a sprint.

Don’t expect NBA players to jump into this, at least not yet, but the USA is putting pros on the court for the upcoming World Cup. The 2017 USA men’s team features Quinton Chievous (played in college at Tennessee, spent last season in the D-League with Iowa), Myke Henry (DePaul and the Oklahoma City Blue of the D-League), Alfonzo McKinnie (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Windy City Bulls of the D-League), and Jonathan Octeus (Purdue and the Windy City Bulls).