The Big 3 three-on-three basketball league is coming to town next week, but the four-game, one night event won’t take place in Atlanta.
On Fri., Aug. 10 (7:30 p.m.) the Big 3, starring NBA stars such as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Nate Robinson, Amare Stoudamire, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Kenyon Martin and former champion Chauncey Billups, to name a few, will take over Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. Following the crowds that packed the Georgia State University Sports Arena for The Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 this past Thursday through Sunday, it’s a wonder that the powers that be behind the Big 3 didn’t think of playing in Atlanta next week.
Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse College in the heart of the Atlanta University Center (AUC), accessible by public transportation, has a maximum capacity of nearly 7,200 and was another option for the Big 3. During this past men’s basketball season for the game against fellow Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and rival Clark Atlanta University and again for an opening round of the NCAA Division II men’s basketball tournament, in which both Clark and Morehouse were involved, the venue was packed. The opportunity for the Big 3 to pick up both new fans, a massive amount of merchandise sales and a couple thousand tickets sales could have been had. Calling this a another missed opportunity is an understatement.
With construction still taking place at Philips Arena – the Hawks are scheduled to play both of their early October preseason home games on at McCamish Pavilion – the options for Big 3 co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz and their staff were few. According to Kwatinetz, “We wanted to do right by the city,” he said on a conference call made available to the media this afternoon.
“The summer is a slow time for arenas and Philips Arena is undergoing construction. We just felt Atlanta is an important basketball city and we couldn’t not play the city.” Close but no cigar, Duluth is not Atlanta by any stretch.
The league has quickly gone from novelty act to must-see TV and it is only getting bigger by the day. “We wanted to get Kobe [Bryant], Paul Pierce, we tried to get everyone,” said Big 3 Commissioner and Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler of the former NBA players and future Hall of Famers. “To have the opportunity to continue to compete with their contemporaries is special. The Big 3 is where it’s happening. It’s very popular right now and no one expected it to be this popular.”
The league will be in Boston on Friday and will be playing at the TD Garden, home of the Eastern Conference runner-up Boston Celtics. The following Fridays there will be tour stops at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, an original Big 3 site. Those cities will have the Big 3 in their best available venues. Atlanta on the other hand will not and that is a missed opportunity.