BIG3 Opener

The BIG3: A Reminder of why we love basketball as much as we do

The BIG3 hosted a fun night of basketball. Jose Partida/SportsMap

Over the Weekend, the BIG3 kicked off their second season live from the Toyota Center, and there was no way I was going to pass on the opportunity to see this league in my own backyard.

For those unfamiliar, the BIG3’s rules are drastically different to those in the NBA. For starters, the teams play half court with a 14 second shot clock. A game reaches half time when a team reaches 25 points, with 50 being a game barring a two point lead. Perhaps the most intriguing rule in the game is the Four Point shots. Without a doubt, those were some of the most exciting moments of the night.

As 3’s Company took to podium after their win against the Killer 3’s , the infectious attitude of both Baron Davis and Drew Gooden overtook the room. It was immediately clear how much fun the pair is having. Davis and Gooden, along with their coach Michael Cooper, joked about the attendance, as compared to their times with struggling franchises in the NBA. Davis answered a media member’s question about who he thought had the better album: Nipsey Hustle or Jay Rock. Gooden even weighed in, awkwardly at that, on if he’d rather watch Basketball Wives or Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Baron Davis was a focal point through out the night. Fans crowded around him to take pictures with him after he came to the floor to watch the rest of the games. At no point did security step in to get the crowd away from him. Davis remained there and took a picture with every single person who approached him. This is definitely nothing like the NBA.

Power made their way to the podium after their 51-31 win over Ball Hogs. Big Baby Glen Davis came into the press conference exclaiming “Man, I’m hungry.”From there, he and Cuttino Mobley, along with their coach Nancy Lieberman, explained their love for basketball and how happy they were to be participating in this league.

“When you love something, you’ll work. You, know? It’s natural, just like breathing and you can’t take it for granted. Like coach was saying, there’s a lot of things that are going on in the world where this is our therapy,” explained Mobley.

Davis remained all smiles during the press conference. That was until Coach Lieberman took the time to share with the media what had been going on with Big Baby last week.

“He had to attend a funeral the other day in Louisiana. We were talking, I said you don't need to come back, we are family first. He said: “No I need basketball. This is what I need.” At the core of who we all are, we play this game because we love it, because it makes us feel good, because of our friendships, and here we are all these years later making new friendships and renewing new friendships with this beautiful game called basketball. We actually need each other. We need the game more than it needs us,” shared Coach Lieberman.

To these guys, this is more than a check. This is more than holding on to something that has past them by. Basketball is so engraved in their lives that they breath it and give it their everything.

That was not more evident on the court than when Kryptonate, Nate Robinson, absolutely balled out against Trilogy. His team, Tri State, upset the reigning champions in a 51-34 victory. Nate hit the game winner, and grabbed Rashad McCants’ Joker mask almost causing a brawl between the two teams. Clearly, these guys still have their competitive pride, and it made for a hell of a watch.

This experience reminded me just how much basketball means to us the fans. Growing up, it was so easy to spend hours outside enjoying basketball. There was nothing like a pickup basketball game. The way the crowd would erupt when guys cross each other over, or when someone pulled a ridiculous move off in a game of HORSE.

There is a weird connection and sense of nostalgia that I felt attached to basketball and to this event. Maybe it is because how intertwined it is with Hip Hop Culture, or because I grew up surrounded by family members in their Rockets’ NBA Champions t- shirts. Perhaps the nostalgia is heightened by the fact most of these guys were in one of my favorite sports video games, NBA LIVE 2005. Regardless, that night allowed me the chance to remember why I fell in love with this sport in the fist place.

As far as the players are concerned, I am sure this season’s inaugural weekend was exactly everything they needed to continue to scratch that itch. To continue to live their life within the sport of basketball. Nothing will ever replace the feeling of doing the thing you love the most.

“Just to be able to go out there and smell the popcorn again is a great experience. I’m just glad to be here and I look forward to all the games to come,” joked Davis.

Coach Lieberman’s words still resonate with me. Being a part of the media, it is easy to forget why I am here in the first place. At times, I have to put my feelings aside. In the NBA, I have to objectively watch the Warriors win year in and year out and be OK with it. This weekend was a great reminder, though, of why I do what I do. Why we love sports as much as we do. Because when all else fails, sports, or basketball in this case, is what keeps us going. At times, sports is what keeps us together.

“We need the game more than it needs us."


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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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