BIG3 co-founder and music and film legend Ice Cube spoke with Brian Sozzi to discuss BIG3, his 3v3 basketball league that resumes its season in July, as well as his thoughts on social justice. and diversity on the occasion of the first anniversary. of his contract with black America is approaching.
BRIAN SOZZI: Join “Yahoo! Finance ”is now Ice Cube. Cube, glad to finally be able to talk to you here. So you have just launched the fourth season of your basketball league. Tell us a bit about that.
ICE CUBE: It’s called the Big3. And we took, I guess, [? what ?] [? would ?] be called your traditional three-on-three basketball. And we just, you know, took him to hyperspace because, you know, the Big3 is professional three-on-three. And, you know, our rosters are filled with many former NBA players.
Our coaches are many NBA Hall of Fame members like Dr. J and George Gervin. So, you know, we have a one of a kind league, you know? It really is an amazing league where you can see professionals three on three.
BRIAN SOZZI: And really, these are innovative stuff. I mean, you say he can dispute fouls. There are head-to-head matches. Why isn’t this stuff in the NBA? It’s time.
ICE CUBE: I think, you know, the NBA is a different stream. You know, with our game, I think it’s designed for, you know, a one-on-one clash that’s more like a penalty kick or, you know, set up like a penalty kick in football. But, you know, it’s called “Bring on the Fire.”
And every half the coach challenges a foul by asking the guys to go head-to-head for the call. If he does, the call is good, the fault is good. If it is missing, then the fault goes off the board, and they remove it, and start over, and play a normal game.
It is therefore a great innovation for our league. And I think people are going to love this aspect of Big3 games. And look, I can’t wait to see it for myself. So I am excited.
BRIAN SOZZI: You’re a busy guy, you always make music, you always make movies. What prompted you to start your own basketball league?
ICE CUBE: As a fan watching someone like Kobe Bryant score 60 points in his last game and knowing there was no place I could go to see him, pay to see him play again, j felt like, hey, why not i see these guys playing? I know they are playing somewhere. You know, I had always thought about three against three and why it wasn’t professionally high. So these ideas collided at the same time.
I have a crazy partner by the name of Jeff Kwatinetz. And me and him thought for a year about what the Big3 could be. And then we launched in 2017 and never looked back.
BRIAN SOZZI: How did he try to revive the league by coming out on the other side of the pandemic? Did you keep all your sponsors?
ICE CUBE: Well, it wasn’t easy. We kept a lot of our sponsors, a lot of people who supported. But a lot of sponsors, they were going through their own issues and their own issues.
So we couldn’t keep Adidas. But it had nothing to do with our league. It has something to do with, you know, their financial situation during the pandemic.
So it was not easy to stay alive. But, you know, we got it right and took the action that we needed. We postponed our 2020 season which was difficult to do but the most responsible thing to do as we have to make our decisions in March and April. And in March, April 2020, no one knew what the sun was going to contain.
You know, would the country be locked up for two years, three years? We did not know. So it was hard. But the good thing is that it’s 2021. California just opened on my birthday, which was yesterday.
BRIAN SOZZI: Happy late birthday.
ICE CUBE: Thank you. So that’s great. You know, we’re starting our season July 10 in Las Vegas, full capacity, at the Orleans Hotel– Arena. I mean, the Orleans arena. So now is the perfect time to get back to it.
BRIAN SOZZI: What have you learned as a businessman over the, say, 18 months of the pandemic.
ICE CUBE: That you can never really stop, you know, finding ways to survive in business. Even when you think things are sort of on autopilot, you can never let your guards down to find ways to, you know, cut costs, be thinner, be meaner, don’t happen, I guess. , you know, don’t stretch too much, you know, and just make sure you’re ready for that rainy day as it comes. So I knew that as a businessman growing up. But seeing it in effect at this point just made me, you know, remember what I already know.
BRIAN SOZZI: You know, I want to change gears a little bit. Around – you know, I thought I would come back in this interview – around the same time last year, I spoke with LL Cool J around the George Floyd murder. And his comments were very powerful.
And then a week and a half later, you came out – I think it was July 1 – with the Black America Contract. You are approaching this one year anniversary. Have you been satisfied with the progress, you know, in society from these things that you described in there?
ICE CUBE: Well, you know, what makes me happy is that the reception of the Black America Contract was, you know, welcoming. I think I’ve educated a lot of people on the big issues and where they – you know, I guess, where, you know, the constraints on the progress of our communities, where they really are, and where they are, you know, being held. So that feels good. You know, of course, I want things to go faster.
But I think, you know, we’re engaging with a few companies behind the scenes to try to make it better. And, you know, that’s all you can really hope for is to educate people, to inspire people, and then to find people who are willing to make things better, to engage with them. and try to figure it out. You know, so I’m very happy with the progress. And I can’t wait to celebrate a year of Contract with Black America.
BRIAN SOZZI: Cube, were you able to meet President Biden again? I encourage anyone watching this to check it out on the site. I mean, it’s a very – I mean, it’s powerful – it’s something very powerful that you described point by point. It is a very large, it is very well thought out. Have you been able to talk to someone in administration to make some of these things happen?
ICE CUBE: I haven’t met President Biden. But I spoke to Richmond Congressman Cedric. And, you know, of course I want things to move a lot faster. But you know, I understand. You know, and I hope we can organize some meetings that I have requested in the future with not only the administration, but with their connection to the big companies, because I think this is a private sector and public sector problem.
So, you know, if they can help me in the private sector in a lot of ways asking decision makers to change some policies and try to get the money where it’s supposed to go, you know, I’m waiting. of power to do that. And we are committed. And, you know, I’m patiently waiting to take the next step.
BRIAN SOZZI: You know, one thing you mentioned – and I guess it relates to our world of finance here at “Yahoo! Finances ”- you mentioned SPAC in the CWBA. Look, we’ve covered a lot of PSPC here. We spoke to a lot of executives. I see hardly any black representation on boards of directors and certainly not in management positions. Why does this continue?
ICE CUBE: You know, the tradition. You know, people, I guess they’re comfortable working with people that they see everyday, and that they went to school with, and things like that. So it’s just about opening people’s minds to be more inclusive.
Things would be better if they were more inclusive. And until people realize this and come to that conclusion, we will continue to have little or no representation in these areas. But it’s not really about the face you put on, what it is – or the skin color of the person you put on – it’s about what you do for. the wider community and what can be done for the less fortunate. Because if someone gets a job like that or a position, they’re in a pretty lucky position. So we want to think about what we could do for the less fortunate.
BRIAN SOZZI: It’s almost CWBA’s first year. Do you see the healing in society from where we were last year?
ICE CUBE: I see, you know, progressing here and there. But I also see us taking a step back. You know, it’s that old scenario, you know, one step forward, two steps back sometimes. So it’s an ebb and flow in this land of things that if they weren’t here it would be a better place. So, you know, I just think the right people have to keep fighting the good fight, and point out what’s wrong, and try to fix it.
BRIAN SOZZI: Well, I know a lot of people certainly appreciate your thoughts and views on this, and what you’ve done to stand up and make a difference. So we appreciate that. And good luck with the new league.
I know a lot of people are going to watch. Much success with that. Ice Cube, we look forward to keeping in touch.
ICE CUBE: Enjoy it, man. Thanks for the interview.