Chicago, IL — Just when you thought it was over, just when you thought you had to “hang up the cleats,” Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz made it so you could have another shot. Yesterday marked the second week of season two, of the Big 3 League. Talented athletes, who are now retired, walked the floors of the United Center with one common goal: to play like they never left the court.
Last year, the two businessmen introduced the world to the Big 3, which showcases 3-on-3 basketball in the half court setting. While many of the rules are the same as your traditional basketball game, there are some adjustments, such as, each team only has six players, the game is played to a specific point value, and there is a four-point shot on the court to name a few.
Even though the game started out like the Killer 3’s were going to blow the Ghost Ballers out of the water, the finish ended up being much closer as both teams hustled, pushed, and competed until the Killer 3’s took home the win, 50-44.
“We got off to a good start, came out and just played basketball,” the Killer 3’s Stephen Jackson said after the game. “It feels good to get a win. We didn’t get a win last year until four games into the season, so it feels good to get one in the second game.”
The game went back and forth for a little, but then the Killer 3’s went on a 14-0 run early in the first half to extend its lead to 21-8. It looked as if they were going to coast to a victory but then Ricky Davis started knocking down shots to close the gap for the Ghost Ballers.
Feeding off of Davis, former Sacramento Kings player Mike Bibby, and former Chicago Bull, Carlos Boozer, made a late connection to dwindle their deficit even more. But still, the Killer 3’s had the lead at intermission, 25-19. With the uniqueness of the league, halftime didn’t start until someone reached the 25-point mark.
However, after halftime, it was like Michael Jordan had given his “Michael’s Secret Stuff” from Space Jam, to the Ghost Ballers. The Ghost Ballers came out on a 14-11 run to start the second half and hit the Killer 3’s first this time, unlike being punched first in the opening half. Now, the Ballers only found themselves down three, 36-33.
Although the Ballers were on a strong run, the Killer 3’s refused to lay down — afterall, they’ve all played at the top level and know their opponent will push back. Jackson, aka Stak, aka The Big 3’s Best Trash Talker from last season, started to let his game talk instead of his lips. He was on fire as he continued to hit shot after shot for the Killer 3’s. He went 10-for-15 from the field, including five triples for a total of 28 points on the night.
“Michael’s Secret Stuff” didn’t wear off just yet though, as the Ghost Ballers responded with an 8-0 run to once again pull within two, 46-44.
But, just like intermission comes at a set score, the game is also over at a set score: the first team to reach 50 points (winning by at least two). While the Ghost Ballers put some pressure on the Killer 3’s, Alan Anderson finished the game by hitting a free-throw to give the Killer 3’s the magic number 50, while the Ghost Ballers were still at 44.
“He’s a big guard that can play point for us, and he helps us on defense so we can switch a lot,” Jackson stated on the play of Anderson who sealed the game for the Killer 3’s. “That was a big thing when we drafted him because we knew he can handle, defense and score. In this league, you gotta have guys that can do a little bit of everything.”
The match-up between the Ghost Ballers and the Killer 3’s was the first of four games of the night. The Killer 3’s are now 1-1 while the Ghost Ballers fall to 0-2.
Yes, these players are retired, but Friday night they all showed they still have that competitive fire within them and have no fear putting in work on the court. Make sure to catch the Big 3 next week as it heads to Oracle Arena in California next Friday, July 6.