14-year-old Mattes was in his glory on Friday night, as I decided to head on over to the TD Garden to finally check out the BIG3 Basketball Tournament.
Red and I have been very intrigued by the BIG3 ever since its inception last year. The league – created by Ice Cube (yes, that Ice Cube) and executive Jeff Kwatinetz (I have no idea who he is either) – is comprised of mostly retired NBA players and features a 3-on-3, half-court style of play. The first team to 50 points wins the game, and while there is technically no game clock each game typically lasts around an hour (which is aided by a 14-second shot clock).
Players are also able to take their chances on a four-point shot at any time, which only adds to the nostalgia for those who grew up playing NBA Jam like myself, Red, and Big Z:
There are plenty of other unique rules as well, all of which I’mma let Ice lay out for you really quick:
(With those pretty punitive rules surrounding techs, I think it’s pretty safe to say we won’t be seeing guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, or Draymond Green playing much post-retirement basketball.)
The schedule runs for 10 weeks, with the league traveling to different cities throughout the country each time (save for a stop in Toronto last week), providing long-time NBA fans everywhere with a little taste of nostalgia and old-school flavor.
Seriously, though, a short list of some of the guys playing this season reads like an early 2000’s NBA all-star game roster: Ron Artest; Mike Bibby; Chauncy Billups; Carlos Boozer; Baron Davis; Ricky Davis; Al Harrington; Stephen Jackson; Rashard Lewis; Corey Maggette; Kenyon Martin; Cuttino Mobley; Jermaine O’Neal; and Amar’e Stoudemire.
(Side note: Yes, you read that correctly; “Metta World Peace” is no more, as the now 38-year-old Artest has apparently decided to go back to the name his mama gave him at birth. Also, to make things even better he has been reunited with former partner-in-crime Stephen Jackson, as they both play for the Killer 3’s, leading fans throughout the Garden to be on full alert for any…ummm…unexpected interactions with the crowd. However, everyone behaved themselves, fans and players included.)
The rosters were also replete with former Celtics players, including such fan favorites as Marcus Banks, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Nate Robinson, and, above all, the legend himself: the one, the only, the White Mamba…Brian David Scalabrine.
Unfortunately, Billups, B-Dave, Lewis (last season’s BIG3 MVP), and K-Mart all sat out on Friday night, but there was still plenty of fun basketball in store.
Rather than providing a recap of each of the four games (which can instead be found here), I’m going to give you some of my most noteworthy observations from the night:
Mixed Night for Former Celtics Stars
The first game of the night featured the guy I was obviously most excited to see, Scalabrine, but it wasn’t necessarily the most noteworthy performance for the big fella. Scal finished with two points and two boards in a closely contested game, which his Ballhogs ended up losing by six.
Game 2, which was probably the most entertaining of the four, featured the Lilliputian wonder Nate Robinson, and boy did he show out. It actually wasn’t surprising to me, as Nate was laser-focused during the pre-game warmup, working on his jumper right when the doors opened up at 6 p.m. until pretty much right before the first game tipped. I was expecting big things from the little guy, and he didn’t disappoint.
Nate started the game oozing with energy and flying around the court on his way to 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Not only do his stats look great on paper, but he also dropped eight points, including a clutch four-pointer, and had a key steal during the team’s furious comeback in the game’s final minutes against Artest and Jackson’s Killer 3’s.
I see you, Nate. And so didn’t everyone else in attendance at the Garden on Friday night.
And of course, we can’t forget about Big Baby, who also had a great game for his team, Power, finishing second on the team in scoring with 15 points.
The lovable goofball was also responsible for hitting the game-ending shot, after which he treated the crowd with a gyrating, wiggle-filled dance that would make even Antoine Walker proud.
So while it may not have been the best night for the White Mamba, at least Shrek and Donkey had a nice night in front of their former home crowd – and I loved every minute of it.
Reggie Evans Can Still BALL
The unquestioned MVP of the night was Reggie Evans, even in a losing effort. He finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, as he looked like an absolute force out there for the 3 Headed Monsters.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, as Evans was playing in the league as recently as 2015, and the Celtics were even considering bringing him out of retirement for a little extra help on the glass toward the end of the 2016 season. He also leads the BIG3 this season in both rebounds and blocks, and while he never posted huge numbers in the NBA the guy did play for 13 seasons and served as a great reserve big man who never got the credit he truly deserved.
Big Success in the NBA Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Big Success in the BIG3
After three hours of play, I admittedly was starting to fade a bit until I heard the starting lineup for the Ghost Ballers, who were playing in the final game of the night: Mike Bibby, Carlos Boozer, and Ricky Davis.
Holy shit! You could do some absolute DAMAGE with a lineup featuring those three in NBA Live 2004! But all three came out shockingly flat, falling behind 8-0 in a flash and eventually losing the game by almost 20 points.
To be fair, both Davis (15 points) and Boozer (15 points, 13 rebounds) eventually woke up, but with a complete goose egg from Bibby and Marcus Banks, the team simply had no chance.
(I also wanted to give some shine to Andre Emmett, who played a total of eight career NBA games back in 2004-2005 before spending the rest of his pro career in either the D-League or overseas. He is having a bit of resurgence in the BIG3. I’ll be honest in saying that while I do remember the name, I can’t say I remember much of him as a player, but he looked great for 3’s Company in their win against the Ghost Ballers, finishing with 21 points, seven boards, three assists, and two steals. The guy also leads the BIG3 in field goals made this season. Hats off to him.)
After watching all eight teams, here is the official “All-Mattes BIG3 Super Squad”:
- Starters: Nate Robinson, Andre Emmett, Reggie Evans
- Reserves: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf; Stephen Jackson; David Hawkins; Carlos Boozer
Overall, I’d say the night was pretty fun. Sure, while there was definitely some mediocre play at times (again, these are retired former players), it was an enjoyable night of basketball for the reasonable price of $15 a ticket.
While it’s probably going to be some time before the league makes its way to Boston again, you can check out all the action on the tube every Friday night on FS1. And just so you know, there are about three weeks left in the season, with the next scheduled stop on the tour being Atlanta.