Just in case the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight wasn't providing enough bizarre spectacle for you, now it looks like the fight may not be able to go off as planned because the hoped-for venue, the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, has already been booked … by a three-on-three basketball league owned by rapper Ice Cube. Currently the championship game of the inaugural 10-week season of the Big 3 basketball league is set for that Saturday, and, according to Cube, if Mayweather and McGregor hope to take the T-Mobile from him someone is going to have to give up a little of that money that is their fight's whole reason for being.
Appearing on FS1's Undisputed yesterday, Cube was asked if he'd be willing to move his game for "small compensation," and the rapper, no fool and no stranger to making money and surely not blind to the benefits of a little unexpected publicity, was enthusiastic. "Of course!" he said. "If they do what they're supposed to do and make us happy, yeah, we'll move. We're talking about it. I think we're gonna get there."
All of which is to say that Ice Cube just fell ass-backwards into the deal of a lifetime. Here he is with a brand-new basketball league to promote, populated entirely by retired NBA players long past their primes, and the biggest combat sporting event in a decade not only just graced his venture with the star power of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor but also put him in the catbird seat as far as negotiations are concerned.
Because while Big 3 may have some name recognition going for it—Allen Iverson is playing, Dr. J is coaching, Ice Cube is being Ice Cube, etc.—there'd be no shame in moving their championship game from the 20,000-seat T-Mobile to, say, the smaller MGM Grand Garden Arena. But the whole sales pitch behind Mayweather-McGregor is size and scope and spectacle, so it just wouldn't do for the fight to go off at the MGM Grand, with its paltry 16,800 seats. Sure, the MGM has been home to Mayweather for the last 10 years, and yes, it's the place where McGregor beat Jose Aldo to claim his first UFC title, but think of the hoopla that gets lost in a smaller arena, not to mention the amount of money that goes away when 3200 tickets at $4000 a pop disappear.
And if you don't want to think about it, rest assured that Ice Cube and Big 3 are. Those 3200 extra seats could be worth $10 million or more. Even if Cube negotiated just a fraction of that money in exchange for giving up the T-Mobile he and his league would probably stand to make a few million bucks for doing exactly nothing. Strange to say, considering Mayweather's and McGregor's reputations and portfolios, but it looks like the two great self-proclaimed businessmen of the fighting world just got outplayed by a rapper and a few old basketball players because they forgot the cardinal rule of putting on a show: always check your calendar.