3-on-3 Basketball Taking Over

By Alex Russ

3-on-3 basketball has started to take over the basketball community. There have been numerous leagues trending on social media everywhere. Starting with Ice Cube’s “Big3” league airing on television nationwide spanning to the San Diego Senior Women’s Basketball Association that has the famous San Diego Splash. 3-on-3 basketball has even reached the Olympics.

So why has 3-on-3 gained so much popularity recently?

For starters, the game is much more fast-paced and everyone gets the ball more, so recreational leagues are popular for amateur players. 3-on-3 also has a street basketball style to it, so players get creative with their moves to create more highlights. Street ballers trend on social media all the time, like The Professor, who is well known for his amazing handles, and highlight videos on YouTube.
So it is only right to give them their own league which is what they got with a league like the  “Big3” league, featuring former NBA players such as Allen Iverson, Jason Williams, and Rashard Lewis.This style of basketball also gives more opportunities for older players and people that are not fortunate enough to be able to play for their school team or AAU.

“A lot of times, in 5-on-5, you might not get to play a lot,” Shirley Povich Sports Journalism Summer Camp counselor and current 3-on-3 player, Grant Cohen, said. “But 3-on-3 is a lot easier, more fast paced, and just less substitutions.”

There are countless recreation leagues for every age group. For example, the San Diego Splash, an 80-year old and up 3-on-3 women’s basketball team that trended all over social media. The older women don’t have to run as much, but they still get good exercise. So now with these leagues, some of them get to experience being on a team and playing basketball for the first time.

3-on-3 basketball was recently added to the Olympic games, and will be in the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The new Olympic sport has very unique rules that may attract more fans to the game. Some of the rules are a game clock of 10 minutes, a 12 second shot clock and 3-pointers count for two points while shots inside the arc count for one point. The game is played in only one half of the court. The only question left to ask is if 3-on-3 basketball can succeed as an Olympic Sport.

“If you get NBA caliber players or you know strong college guys that people have heard of from the NCAA tournament, then I do think it can become a legit Olympic sport.”  Cohen said.

Now, of course, not everyone agrees that 3-on-3 basketball will be a successful Olympic sport and not everyone thinks it is entertaining either. One of these people is former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon, an inductee in the DC Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

“ 3-on-3 would seem to me to be more individual than the regular 5-on-5,” Solomon said. “So people will get a chance to see an individual display his or her talent, more in 3-on-3 than 5-on-5. With that said, it’s a different game and probably not as interesting to the average fan.”

Solomon, currently working for the Shirley Povich Center at the University of Maryland, doesn’t think the addition of adding the 3-on-3 tournament adds anything new and compared to other sports, like baseball and softball, which were removed after 2008 Olympics but are returning for the Tokyo games in 2020. Furthermore basketball is already an Olympic sport.

Despite detractors, 3-on 3 basketball can continue to gain popularity if it continues to get former stars to support it and the unique playing style mixed with its interesting rules continue to capture the media and public’s attention.


Photo Courtesy of For The Win-USA Today


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