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'Support has been off the chain': Ice Cube brings back the Big3 Basketball tournament back to Chicago

Ice Cube brings back the Big3 Basketball tournament back to Chicago
Ice Cube brings back the Big3 Basketball tournament back to Chicago 03:22

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The NBA season might be over, but fans can still get their basketball fix.

The Big3 is back for another season, and is spending its first part of it in Chicago. CBS 2's Marshall Harris talked with Ice Cube, whose brain child Big3 Basketball happens to be.

The half-court, three-on-three pro league expanded from eight to 12 teams just before the pandemic, and it's still going strong. Some might be surprised, but certainly not the man behind the idea.

"After the first year, everybody thought that was cool cube and we was like no we'll be back next year."

For Ice Cube, creator of the Big 3, the staying power of the three-on-three professional basketball league has raised plenty of eyebrows, but that's not unlike when the rapper turned actor turned entrepreneur launched the league six years ago.

"Creating a sport and making sure people take it serious is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," said Ice Cube.

When asked, what was the closest to you feeling like it may not make it," Ice Cube said a lot of thought went into planning the event. 

"Of course, you know, we had to think about it. This is our third year going into our fourth year when 2020 hit. And we had a lot of momentum and the pandemic it hurt the league without a doubt," he said. "We just figured out what did we need to do survive and come back in 2021. and we did what it take."

Three-on-three basketball itself wasn't a new phenomenon, but now the big three has evolved into a sort of champions tour for retired NBA players.

Who comes to mind is Mahmoud Abdul Rauf. He's in his 50's. Can he can still shoot?

"I mean he's better than some of our guys in their 20's. At the end of the day, I think it's the competition. I think it's the camaraderie and this is a league they can call their own. Guys can retire and you know quit playing when they feel like it's over. It's not just up to the NBA to tell you if you still got it or not."

Because of the pandemic, there will only be two tour stops this regular season. When asked what was it about Chicago as a viable stop? 

"Well, we've come to Chicago every year. And the support has been off the chain," he said.

Ice Cube points out the NBA has been around over 75 years. That's the kind of sustained success he's after, even if the NBA doesn't see the Big3 as a net positive.

"I'm pretty sure we're a nuisance to them in a way. Because they probably wish they would have thought of it. But at the end of the day we here, we have a lot of good athletes that was with the NBA and was from the NBA and there's no reason why we can't work together. But if not, we'll continue to do what we do without 'em.

They're back at it on UIC's campus at Credit Union 1 Arena on both Saturday and Sunday. Ice Cube said one of the things that make his league different is no one's telling you to get back in your seat.

      you might be able to run down and get an autograph or a picture with a player...

      fan friendly is the name of his game... 

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