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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Let's make a deal. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, and the Houston Texans have a significant decision to make regarding their franchise star, J.J. Watt. The Texans are 1-6 through the first seven games of the season, and the next few years of the franchise seem a bit bleak.

No player or staff member has encapsulated Houston's frustration quite like Watt. Excluding the Texans' victory over the Jaguars, the future Hall of Famer has looked miserable in every post-game press conference. Each week, it's the constant look of despair. And in hindsight, closing the chapter on Watt's career in Houston seems to be best for both parties.

At 31-years-old, the All-Pro defensive tackle should be spending the twilight of his career competing for Super Bowls — not playing for a team who is clearly about to hit the reset button at the conclusion of this season.

By departing from Watt, it would allow the Texans to get a jumpstart on their rebuilding project — one that has the potential to bring back quality draft picks, a young prospect, and clear close to $20 million in cap space.

If they decide not to move on from Watt, the Texans risk putting themselves in a situation where they may miss out on obtaining higher draft picks and strapped for cash heading into the 2021 free agency market. And with one year left on his contract following 2020, the Texans also risk losing leverage in a potential deal if forced into trading Watt come next season.

At this stage of his career, the Texans may not receive a haul for Watt's services but could maximize his trade value by dealing him to a championship-contending team. A move that would give Watt the best chances of adding a championship title to his luxurious resume in return.

With the future of the franchise in mind, here are three potential trade ideas that would be best if the Texans are truly considering moving on from Watt.

Watt returns home to Wisconsin and joins the Packers

Texans receive: 2021 first-round pick and LB Kamal Martin

Packer receive: J.J. Watt

The Green Bay Packers are one of a handful of teams who has a realistic chance to stamp their ticket to Super Bowl LV. Following a win over the Texans on Sunday, the Packers stand first in the NFC North with a 5-1 record and possess one of the NFL's best offensive teams.

Green Bay's offense can compete in a shootout with just about any team in the league, but their defense may be the reason why they fall short of representing the NFC in Tampa Bay come February. They have only accumulated a total of 10 quarterback hits and are currently 30th in the league in pass rush through the first six games. The Packers' lack of ability to get to the opposing team's quarterback could be an immense problem during a playoff game that could feature Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

So what do the Packers have to lose by acquiring their Wisconsin native?

The addition of Watt would allow the Packers to add one of the best pass rushers of all-time. Although Watt is nowhere near the player that finished second behind Aaron Rogers for league MVP honors in 2015, he has illustrated that he is still a disruptive defensive lineman five years later.

Through the first seven games, Watt has accounted for 11 pressures, six quarterback hits and three sacks — which would make him Green Bay's second most reliable pass rusher trailing only Za'Darius Smith.

For the Texans, receiving a first-round pick for Watt is self-explanatory and would be the most suitable return for the aging star. However, for a team that is building for the future, the Texans should consider obtaining a young and raw prospect to evaluate.

Kamal Martin, a fifth-round draft selection in 2020, made his NFL debut against the Texans on Sunday and left an exceptional first impression. He recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss in 29 snaps inside NRG Stadium, and could be a building block should the Texans begin to make modifications to their linebacking corps.

Seattle sends multiple draft picks for Watt

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and fourth-round pick

Seahawks receive: J.J. Watt

If the Packers do not take advantage of improving their pass rush with Watt — perhaps the Seattle Seahawks will. Both NFC teams mirror each other with a high-powered offense, but a feeble defense may hinder one another from advancing to the Super Bowl. In a deal for Watt to the Seahawks, the Texans would miss out on the chance to acquire a first-rounder, but obtaining multiple picks would be just as prominent.

Seattle's general manager John Schneider is no stranger to taking a significant risk, and appears willing to make any moves that will put his organization closer to their long-overdue second title with Russell Wilson. Perhaps, Watt would be that missing key.

The Seahawks are pretty solid at stopping the run but need a tremendous upgrade in their pass defense. Seattle has given up the second-most passing yards on the season (2,212), and the reason seems to be their inability to get to the quarterback. Seattle has only implemented pressure to the opposing team's quarterback on 20.1% of their dropbacks, while only recording a total of nine sacks.

The Seahawks pass defense may not become elite, but the disruption of Watt on their defensive line could be enough to limit the devastation they have experienced through the first seven weeks of the season.

Watt to the Big Easy for Brees' last dance

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and Marcus Davenport

Saints receive: J.J. Watt

Seven weeks into the season, the New Orleans Saints are not sitting near the top of the NFC nor their division when compared to recent years. A bevy of injuries have been attributed to their minor decline this season — mainly to their All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

However, the Saints have prevailed through the injury bug to march their way to a 4-2 record. If New Orleans can get healthy during the second half of the season, they will be in the running to represent the NFC in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV. But unlike the Packers and Seahawks, this could be the Saints last chance to recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy in what is likely Drew Brees' last dance.

The addition of Watt to the Saints would give general manager Mickey Loomis a chance to create the most disruptive defensive line in the league. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would be able to shift the five-time Pro-Bowler to the interior — allowing the Saints to trot out a d-line of Watt, Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson.

This trade would give Watt arguably the most help he has ever had on the defensive line — which would allow New Orleans to maximize what is left of his career.

This trade would have the Texans missing out on obtaining a first-rounder, but a sound-round pick would be just as valuable for Watt. However, Houston should consider adding a young prospect in a potential swap, and Marcus Davenport would be their best return.

Drafted in 2018, Davenport is a former first-round talent who can help transition the Texans into the post-Watt era. He has showed promise of a bright future through his first two seasons, but injuries have prevented the 24-year-old prodigy of San Antonio from establishing himself as one of the league's top young talents.

This season, elbow and toe injuries have limited Davenport to just a pair of games in 2020. Although there is an immense concern regarding Davenport's health, the Texans cannot pass on adding a player who has already registered 11.5 sacks and 31 quarterback hits through his first 28 career games.

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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