Ron Artest to join Big3 next summer, Allen Iverson to return

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Big3 co-founder Ice Cube knew it was going to take a year or two to get bigger names to play on his summer circuit.

“In a lot of ways, (last season) was definitely a ‘show me’ year,” Ice Cube told NBC Sports. “Some (players) actually told us they would wait to see how we did this year before they would want to be a part of it. We knew trying to introduce something this new would have people kind of taking a wait-and-see approach.”

Cube seems to be prescient — players are coming.

Metta World Peace will play next season — under his old name Ron Artest — the league announced Monday, as the co-captain of Stephen Jackson’s Killer 3’s. This NBA season World Peace is working as a player development coach for the Lakers’ G-League team.

Also, Allen Iverson will return for his second season as a Big3 coach and possibly spot player.

A lot of people checked out the Big3 in person and on Fox Sports 1 last season, but as much out of curiosity as anything. Like the NBA, the Big3 needs star power to sell, and the ownership of the league understands that. They are on the recruiting trail, and former players of the league expect it to work.

“People were trying to see if this was a joke or how serious it is, but now the retired players are seeing this game and they’re excited about what is taking place,” 11-year NBA veteran Mike James said last season. “So from this year to next year, you’re going to see more familiar names playing in this league, you’ll see more ex-superstars that played the game. And then you’ve got guys on their last leg in the NBA, they got something to look forward to.”

That’s what Ice Cube and the backers of the Big3 are counting on.