Big3 begins: Close games open Ice Cube’s new 3-on-3 league

2 Headed Monsters Jason Williams (55) drives up against Ghost Ballers Ivan Johnson (44) during the first half of Game 1 in the BIG3 Basketball League debut, Sunday, June 25, 2017, at the Barclays Center in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — DeShawn Stevenson nailed the shot, ran toward the sideline and slapped hands with Ice Cube.

Stevenson had a winner, and Cube might, too.

The rapper-actor’s new 3-on-3 basketball league of former NBA players got off to a strong start Sunday, with the first two games both decided on winning shots.

The stands at Barclays Center were well-filled, with entertainers such as LL Cool J and NBA players such as James Harden in the crowd for the first two games before former MVP Allen Iverson, the main attraction among players, took the court following a concert for the third of four games on the day.

“We’re excited to be here in the first weekend of the Big3,” said Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, who coached Power to a 62-58 victory over Tri State on Stevenson’s 3-pointer.

“I think it’s going to be incredibly good. The games are exciting, the players are still talented and they’re fun to watch.”

Games are played to 60 points but teams have to win by two, and getting to 60 wasn’t enough in either of the first two games.

In the opener, Rashard Lewis made a three-point play with his team facing game point as 3 Headed Monsters edged Ghost Ballers 62-60.

Showing the risk of relying on players well past their primes, there were injuries in both of the first two games. Jason Williams, the flashy point guard nicknamed “White Chocolate,” went down with a right leg injury late in the opener, and Corey Maggette had to come out of the second game. Both were expected to be OK.

The game has gimmicks — Lewis made the first 4-point shot and teams had 14 seconds to shoot. Team names included 3′s Company and Killer 3s and some players wore nicknames on their jerseys, with Jerome Williams going with “Junk Yard Dog” on his.

Cube vowed the games would be competitive — players are vying for a revenue share based on final league standings — and there was a possession early when players on both teams dived on the floor for a loose ball. There was pushing and shoving in the post and a few hard fouls, and the physicality and trash talk appeared to heat up as the game went on.

The quality of play wasn’t the strongest, but Drexler said it was still very good.

“Outside of the NBA this is the most competitive basketball league in the world, so the Big3 is here to stay,” he said.

The eight-team league will play on 10 weekends, culminating with the Aug. 26 championship in Las Vegas. Games are shown on Monday nights on Fox Sports 1.

3 HEADED MONSTERS 62, GHOST BALLERS 60

The 3 Headed Monsters blew a late lead after Williams went down and the Ghost Ballers went ahead 60-59 before Lewis scored and drew a foul, making the free throw to finish the game.

Lewis finished with 27 points and former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the 3 Headed Monsters. Ricky Davis led the Ghost Ballers with 23 points.

POWER 62, TRI STATE 58

Stevenson finished with 20 points for the Power, making five 3-pointers. Maggette scored 15 and Cuttino Mobley had 14.

Jermaine O’Neal scored 18 points for Tri State, coached by Hall of Famer Julius Erving. Mike James had 13 points and 12 rebounds.