Big3 co-founder Ice Cube has believed from the start that if his fledgling league could show it had legs, show players a level of professionalism and steady paychecks, bigger and bigger names would come out to compete.
Entering its third season, the Big3 is doing just that. It conducted its tryout camp and draft the past few days in Las Vegas, and there are names NBA fans will recognize. Among them:
• Royce White — the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, who played just three NBA games and has gone on to be an advocate for mental health issues, particularly in professional sports — was the No. 1 overall pick by the Enemies. He will be on a team with…
• Lamar Odom, the 14-year NBA veteran who was a two-time NBA champion with the Lakers and won Sixth Man of the Year, but whose career crashed and burned too early due to drug addiction, something that nearly took his life.
• Gilbert Arenas also will play for the Enemies with White and Odom.
• Greg Oden, the former No. 1 pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, whose body betrayed him and kept him from making an impact in the NBA — but who never gave up his love of the game of efforts to return — was taken by the Aliens with the 7th pick in round one. Oden joins captains Kendrick Perkins and teammate Shannon Brown.
• Larry Sanders, the six-season NBA veteran whose length and shooting were prized in both the NBA and the Big3, where he was the No. 3 pick this past week. Sanders NBA career came to an early end due to anxiety and mood disorders, for which he self-medicated for a time while in the league. Sanders will play on Gary Payton’s 3-Headed Monsters squad with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Rashard Lewis, Reggie Evans, Mario Chalmers, and Tre Simmons.
• Other former NBA players added to the Big3 this season include Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Shannon Brown, Stephen Jackson, C.J. Watson, Jason Richardson, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Josh Powell, Jamario Moon, Donte Greene, and Bonzi Wells.
• Returning stars include Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Stephen Jackson, Carlos Boozer, Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis, Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen, Rashard Lewis, Metta World Peace, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, and Jermaine O’Neal.
The Big3 has expanded and will be in two cities each weekend starting June 22 and running for 11 weeks. The games will be broadcast on CBS and the CBS Sports Network, and a champion will be crowned Sept. 1.