The Big3, a 3-on-3 basketball league featuring retired NBA players, kicked off its inaugural season yesterday in Brooklyn with a quadruple-header at Barclays Center. FS1 is going to air these games on a one-day delay beginning tonight at 8 PM in what the network is calling a "thrilling 'Monday Night Basketball' experience."
Most of the thrill will come from watching former greats like Allen Iverson, Jason "White Chocolate" Williams, Charles Oakley, Kenyon Martin, and, uh, Brian Scalabrine get back out on the court in some fashion.
However, there is a reason these guys are former greats, and it might pose a problem for the league. Specifically, they are old as hell and getting injured.
Jason Williams went down with a leg injury early in the first game and never returned. Corey Maggette was also hurt and had to come out of the second game. Kenyon Martin was limited with a pulled hamstring, an injury he said he'd never suffered before. Look at these sad-ass words from Kenyon, he wants to make sure you know it's definitely not an age thing:
"I just reached for the ball," Martin said. "I did everything feasible to get loose … my normal routine that I've done for 15 years. It's one of those things. Fifteen years playing in the league, I've never done this.
"It's the same routine. Because of my age … it's got nothing to do with that. Something happened. I reached wrong, and I pulled it. You know how many loose balls I've reached for in 15 years [in the NBA]? I've been playing basketball since I was 10 … I've never did this.
"So it's got nothing to do with my age. It's just one of them things, man. I'll get ready to play next week."
One could argue that if it's the same routine that he's been doing for 15 years then maybe we have to start looking at what has changed and, well, Kenyon Martin is 39 years old. Maybe it's a coincidence and a bunch of guys randomly went down with injuries having nothing to do with being old as dirt. Or maybe players just have to get themselves back into something approximating game-shape. Whatever it is, there definitely seems to be a risk in taking the same competitive fire that got these guys to the NBA in the first place, and injecting it into middle-aged bodies grinding out 3-on-3 half-court games to 60. They might start running out of bodies, or at least bodies anyone wants to bother watching.
Iverson, who is 42 years old, is serving as player-coach for team 3's Company. He called his number for only 9 minutes in his opening game, and made it clear you're not going to get much more than that from him. "You're not going to see the Allen Iverson of old out there," he said after the game.
Hopefully he can avoid the injuries that took down his peers on Sunday and we can at least see Old Allen Iverson for a few minutes each week.