Photo: Logan Riely / Stringer via Getty Images
  /  08.18.2023

The memory of your very first basketball game is something you will carry forever. I can still feel those arena steps under my sneakers, taking me up to this massive stadium that I’d only ever seen on TV before. And the energy from the fans in the stands right there in front of you creates a rush that’s hard to put into words. Grabbing some food and checking out all the cool team merchandise from those stalls scattered around the stadium just added to the whole vibe.

And not to mention watching your all-time favorite players owning the court, killing it against their biggest rivals — there’s nothing quite like it. Do you know what would’ve made that moment even better? The dream of actually owning my favorite team. That’s usually reserved for the high rollers and superstar athletes, but guess what? BIG3 is changing the game. Now, that dream of having a piece of your cherished basketball team isn’t some distant fantasy. Nope, BIG3‘s flipping the script and giving regular fans a piece of the pie.

BIG3 is a 3-on-3 summer basketball league that was founded by entertainment mogul Ice Cube and executive Jeff Kwatinetz back in 2017. This 12-week league has three-player lineups and five-player rosters. The teams play with a half-court and race to the first 50 points, but to win, one squad must be up by at least two points. The league is comprised of hall of famers, NBA vets, and overseas players balling as well as on the coach roster.

In 2022, the league opened up a decentralized system for fans to own a stake in one of the 12 teams. Those interested have two ownership options comprised of 1,000 editions – 25 Fire priced at $25,000 each and 975 Gold priced at $5,000 each, per the official BIG3 website. Some of the perks you get as an owner include: Voting rights, VIP tickets for all the games, merchandise, access to team practices, meet-and-greets with coaches and players, and so much more. If you are interested in buying in, you can head over to Opensea to purchase and learn more.

What is the reason for the decentralized route? Well, Kwatinetz said in a press release, “We are thrilled to be lowering the barrier to entry to team ownership, so our fans can take their investment to the next level. This is a tremendous step for our league and the sport as a whole, and I can’t wait to meet our new owners and begin to build this league alongside them.”

Getting some exclusive insight straight from Ice Cube himself, the entertainment icon explained the importance of ownership. He told REVOLT, “You see, ownership holds a lot of weight. It’s about reaping the rewards of your hard work, having a say in how things roll, and keeping a handle on the business side. But don’t get me wrong, partnerships are key too — everyone needs good partners. We just want to make sure we’re steering the ship.”

When asked why they ventured into 3-on-3 basketball, specifically, Ice Cube explained that it “has been in the mix forever. It’s like the little sibling of 5-on-5, the kind of game most folks play more often. Unless you’re in the big leagues or college, that is. It’s been this underground thing, more like casual fun than a full-blown professional deal. So, my crew and I started brainstorming, figuring out how to level it up, how to take it from weekend pick-up to a serious show. We tweaked the game to make it slick on the court and a blast to watch.”

As for what’s on the horizon for BIG3, Ice Cube noted, “We’re all about locking in solid partnerships and bringing in top-notch investors. And pretty soon, we’re hoping to bring some awesome owners on board to fuel the league’s growth and give it that extra edge. Our game plan? Expanding teams in different cities opens up opportunities that other leagues might miss. Plus, we’re diving deep into our Young3 program, where our players and coaches mentor young guns in the world of 3-on-3. Picture those young ballers rocking jerseys like the Triplets or 3’s Company — that’s where we’re headed. And you better believe we’re eyeing more growth, extending our reach throughout the summer, hitting up more cities, and keeping the fire alive from season to season.”

I had the opportunity to experience the BIG3 firsthand during their recent matchup in Charlotte, North Carolina and let me tell you, it was not your average basketball game. I went by the will call booth, via the express lane, to snag my owners pass. From there, I went to The Crown Club, which is the executive suite decked out with a buffet of delectable eats and drinks.

I was invited by Degods, an NFT project that transforms holders into fractional owners of the Killer 3s team. They escorted me to the floor seats that were the best in the house. The stands were a mix of die-hard fans and team owners, all buzzing with anticipation for their squad’s moment in the spotlight. Some of these owners follow their teams from city to city, showcasing unwavering support that goes beyond the bounds of fandom. I had the chance to chat with Sunny Talwar, one of the Degod holders, to gain a firsthand perspective on what it’s like to be an owner.

He dived into why he jumped on board the Degods train. And man, his reasoning was like a power surge of conviction. Talwar laid it out like this: “Right from the get-go, Degods carved out its path, blazing a trail with a rock-solid community at its back. It’s a true David-to-Goliath saga, going from underdog status to reigning supreme as one of the globe’s top-tier NFT projects. Now, add my unwavering love for basketball into the mix. I’ve been in the thick of it, orchestrating events across LA — everything from exclusive pick-up games to swanky cocktail bashes. So, when they came knocking with this proposition to journey across the summer, forge bonds with the team, and whip up mind-blowing experiences for the holders, well, it was a slam dunk decision. No doubt about it.”

Talwar discussed some of the perks as a holder, including “sitting courtside at an NBA arena, drink in hand, gourmet bites on the ready, and the game unfolding mere feet away. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve got this exclusive VIP shindig before the weekend kicks off, where you’re rubbing shoulders with players, coaches, and fellow owners. But that’s not all — over at Killer 3s, owned by the Degods crew, we’re raising the bar. We’ve curated a lineup of killer events that dance around the game schedule, giving our community the chance to mingle in various cities. Think brunches, happy hours, a touch of DeGolf, some casual pick-up basketball, and electrifying nightlife. And to top it all off, our players drop by to share moments with the holders. The cherry on top? Most of it’s on the house, baby! The holders just show up and let the good times roll.”

He also talked about the importance of ownership. “A ton of these owners? They’re fans, die-hards in the truest sense. They’re packing the arenas, rallying the troops, and flaunting their perks like badges of honor. The beauty is it’s a whole different kind of growth. See, the teams, they’re not bound by cities. Every owner’s got skin in the game, a stake in the outcome. It’s this unique blend of camaraderie and incentive that’s taking things to new heights,” Talwar explained.

And if you’re thinking, “Why should I own a basketball team?” Well, his answer was, “Listen up, it’s a blast to watch. Picture this — high-octane action, courtside seats, and the thrill of knowing you’re kind of, sort of a basketball team owner. Plus, it’s not just about the game; it’s a primo networking playground. Oh, and let’s not forget the epic conversation starter — ‘Yeah, I own a piece of a basketball team.’ Now, that’s how you kick off a chat!”

It isn’t just about the amazing fans and ownership, but opportunities for athletes, past and present, to be involved in a league during the summer. I also got to chat with Javier Carter, a professional overseas basketball player, about his experience in the BIG3. Carter revealed he got introduced by going “to a couple of games last year when they were in Dallas. I know a couple of the guys or knew of a couple guys, and they talked to me about playing. I’m just like, ‘No, I wasn’t trying to play during the summer’ because my seasons were long overseas. But the opportunity presented itself, and I knew a couple of players on Killy 3, so it just made sense for me then.”

As far as the perks, he mentioned, “One is just networking. Being able to network during the summer, traveling around. A lot of guys who play overseas don’t get that chance because we’re gone nine, 10 months out of the year. So networking is just being able to catch up with guys that you either played with before, or have heard of, or played against. I would say that.”

Carter also explained that his relationship with the team owners is what prompted him to learn more about Web3. “They came to every game, so I was able to just pick their brains after the game. We had a hotel, eating or something like that. Just pick their brains and see what it is they do. How Web3, NFTs, Coinbase and stuff are profitable — because a lot of people who are scared to invest don’t invest because they’re scared and they don’t know. Just being able to understand that aspect of things made it more interesting. But as for the basketball aspect, there’s not much of a correlation between the NFTs and Web3. But when you sit down there and talk to your team owners and whatnot, it makes it a lot easier,” the accomplished athlete added.

The BIG3 league has curated an opportunity for players and their fans that has never been done before. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend attending one of the games next season, as they will be wrapping up the championships in London soon.



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