According to reports by TMZ Sports, the National Basketball Association has been accused of targeting Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league and violating antitrust laws to do it.
Per the outlet, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating the NBA several months ago over allegations claiming the league engaged in anticompetitive conduct to try to prevent BIG3 from taking off. Some examples of the actions under investigation include the NBA allegedly trying to keep prospective partners and sponsors from working with BIG3 and attempting to keep networks from airing its games.
Together with Jeff Kwatinetz, Ice Cube launched the BIG3 basketball league in 2017. Its players are mostly comprised of former NBA athletes. While current NBA ballers have reportedly expressed interest in competing in BIG3 during the association’s offseason, the latter claims the NBA has kept them from doing so by implementing rules prohibiting it. The two leagues do not have overlapping seasons.
During the offseason, NBA players routinely hit the court elsewhere, including over at the Drew League in Los Angeles. Officials with BIG3 reportedly believe the NBA has unfairly targeted them.
Other allegations of anticompetitive behavior the NBA has reportedly engaged in include discouraging its owners from investing in BIG3 and preventing NBA referees from officiating in BIG3 games.
Kwatinetz and Ice Cube allegedly met with DOJ lawyers early in 2023, and the department’s investigators are said to have been contacting NBA owners. Per TMZ, the NBA could receive a substantial fine if the DOJ finds it violated antitrust laws.
Mike Bass, a spokesman for the National Basketball Association, denied it engaged in anticompetitive conduct targeted at the BIG3 league. Instead, he insisted that the NBA has supported BIG3 since the beginning but refused to invest in it. Both BIG3 and the DOJ reportedly refused to comment when contacted by TMZ.