HARRIS COUNTY-HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Drexler excited to bring Big3 season opener to Houston

Clyde Drexler has the Big3 in Houston for opening night. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

Still trying to shake off the Rockets’ loss in the NBA, er, Western Conference Finals?

Pondering what could be if LeBron James picks – or doesn’t pick -- Houston?

Or just trying to un-see some of those moments during the Ted Cruz-Jimmy Kimmel Blobfish Classic?

Whatever basketball malaise you’re in, Clyde Drexler is pretty sure he has the cure.

Friday’s Big3 season two opener at 5:30 p.m. at Toyota Center.

The Houston basketball legend-turned-Big 3 commissioner couldn’t be more excited to bring the 3-on-3 league filled with recent NBA stars and coached by Hall of Famers to his hometown.

“Opening week, we wanted to be perfect,’’ Drexler said. “Houston is one of our premier destinations and we can’t wait for it to get started.

“We try to go to cities that follow the NBA game, that are big basketball cities and vibrant economic cities. Houston checked all the boxes.  We’ve got an incredible mayor, great leadership and Toyota Center is a great place to play and our fans love the game of basketball.’’

How does a 4 p.m. kickoff concert from Big3 co-founder Ice Cube followed by 8 teams filled with former NBA stars playing four half-court 3-on-3 games in one night grab you?

And don’t forget that five of those teams are coached by Hall of Famers Julius Erving (Tri State), George Gervin (Ghost Ballers), Gary Payton (3 Headed Monsters), Rick Barry (Ball Hogs) and Nancy Lieberman, the league’s first female coach. Lieberman is coaching Power, the team Drexler coached last season.

“Nancy is one of the most competitive people I know,’’ Drexler said of the former college and WNBA star and current Sacramento Kings assistant coach. “She’s a winner. She knows the game of basketball, she’s a leader and I think she’s going to do very well in the Big3.’’

No one knows the city or the game as well as Drexler, who started working his magic here at Sterling High then caught everyone’s eye at the University of Houston as a founding member of Phi Slama Jama. He went on to become a 10-time NBA All-Star at Portland and Houston, helped the Rockets to the 1995 NBA title and has had his No. 22 jersey retired by the Cougars, Trailblazers and Rockets.

He coached the Big3’s Power to a tie for third in the inaugural season – Trilogy beat 3 Headed Monsters for the 2017 title - and said this year’s league has even more talent.

Drexler said about 80 former NBA players competed for 17 open roster spots this season.

“The talent level has risen and the game is becoming more and more popular,’’ Drexler said. “People are getting familiar with the names. We only have 8 teams, we only play for 10 weeks, but all eight teams play every single week in the same arena. We play four games. So when you go, you get to see all these players, all these Hall of Famers.

“It is a festival of basketball. It’s very competitive.’’

The league has a 4-point shot (30-footers from set spots) and a 14-second shot clock. The first team to 25 points is halftime and the first team to 50 points, provided it is up by 2, wins the game. “So the games can go quick,’’ Drexler said, “or they can take a while.”

Last year  Drexler’s team included Cuttino Mobley and Corey Maggette. This year, Power added Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Glen “Big Baby “ Davis, and Quentin Richardson.

Trilogy won last year with Al Harrington and Rashad McCants and added Kenyon Martin and James White. Tri State added Nate Robinson and A’mare Stoudemire to go along with Jermaine O’Neal and Bonzi Wells. And the list goes on . .

League co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz are also committed to giving back to the communities starting with the Young3 initiative for players 7-14 years old. The Young3 will be played Thursday morning at the Boys and Girls’ Clubs.

The Big3 also refurbishes courts in the cities where they play and Drexler said Houston’s project will be in Acres Homes.

Additionally, Drexler said about 1,000 tickets will be made available to Santa Fe High school students who want to attend the event. The community is still healing from the recent tragic shooting at the school.

“We want to show them the love,’’ Drexler said. “We want to let them know that people care about them all over the world and especially here in the city of Houston and shine a little spotlight on them.’’

The Big3 did not play in Houston last year, but Drexler hopes what he calls the best 3-on-3 league will draw big crowds and keep Houston on the league’s schedule.

“With 3-on-3 professional basketball, It doesn’t get any better than the Big3,’’ he said, “So when it comes to your town, you don’t want to miss it.’’





 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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