Charlotte Hornets

BIG3 returns with plenty of Charlotte NBA connections: What you should know

The BIG3, a professional 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by musician-turned-actor/director Ice Cube in 2017, returns to Charlotte after a one-year hiatus on Saturday.

Three games will take place at Spectrum Center, featuring five former Charlotte NBA players. Tipoff is set for noon.

What makes the BIG3 different from the NBA, besides the number of players on a half-court, is the level of intensity, Ice Cube said.

“Sometimes it’s even more intense because on 5-on-5, you can kind of hide,” Ice Cube said. “There are so many players, you can find your spots where you’re a specialist, but (in) 3-on-3, you have to have all-around basketball skills. Being just a shooter is not going to help you out here ... You got to know how to shoot, dribble, pass, make good decisions, and be able to beat your man.”

There is a 14-second shot clock, the ability to make a 4-pointer and the game is fast-paced, moving from offense to defense in the blink of an eye.

“Everything is right in front of you,” Ice Cube said. “So you really got to know what you’re doing to succeed in the BIG3.”

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Before they were Hornets, Al Jefferson, left, and Kemba Walker were Charlotte Bobcats. Jefferson, who now plays in the BIG3 basketball touring league, says his former teammate should “follow his heart” when NBA free agency begins Sunday. AP file photo

Former Hornets return home

Former Hornets Al Jefferson and Baron Davis are among the familiar names set to appear Saturday.

02/15/02: Charlotte Hornet’s Baron Davis was all smiles as he finished the first quarter of action with 15-points against the Indiana Pacers, Friday night February 15, 2002, at the Charlotte Coliseum.PATRICK SCHNEIDER/STAFF Observer file photo

Jefferson, 34, joined the BIG3 in March and is a co-captain with the Triplets. A former Boston Celtics first-round draft pick, he played three seasons with the Bobcats/Hornets and soon-to-be free-agent Kemba Walker. Jefferson addressed his former teammate’s status on Charlotte radio this week.

I would tell Kemba just to follow his heart,” Jefferson told WFNZ-AM (610). “No one (knows) Kemba more than Kemba. No one know what situations he wants to put himself in. This is a pretty good position he (is) in right now and he will probably never be in this position again in his career... I would just tell him to really pray about, really think about it and follow his heart.”

Davis, 40, was selected No. 3 overall by the Hornets in the 1999 NBA draft. He played three seasons in Charlotte then moved to New Orleans with the franchise in 2002. Davis, a co-captain for 3’s Company, is ranked in the BIG3’s top five in points per game (15.2), 3-point percentage (44%) and 4-point percentage.

Carolinas connections

Aside from Jefferson and Davis, a few other BIG3 players have ties to the Carolinas:

Killer 3s — Co-captains Stephen Jackson, who played two seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats, and Josh Powell, a Charleston native and former N.C. State standout.

3’s Company — Jason Maxiell, a Hornets forward in 2014-15, and Dahntay Jones, a former Duke shooting guard.

Triplets — Alan Anderson played 53 games over two seasons with Bobcats (2005-07)

Lisa Leslie coach

Lisa Leslie, a three-time WNBA MVP and four-time Olympic gold medalist, joins Nancy Lieberman this season as BIG3’s only female head coaches.

Notable players

Six of the BIG3’s 12 teams will play in Charlotte: Enemies, Ball Hogs, Trilogy, Triplets, 3’s Company and Killer 3s. The rest will play Sunday in Philadelphia.

Among the players set to appear in Charlotte are former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, ex-Clipper (and Khloe Kardashian’s ex) Lamar Odom. Hall of Famer Rick Barry and ex-NBA star Charles Oakley, a former Chicago Bulls teammate of Hornets owner Michael Jordan, are BIG3 coaches.

Want to go?


Noon, Saturday

Spectrum Center

TV: CBS (WBTV, Ch. 3)