The BIG3 basketball league was created in 2017 and has continually grown in popularity heading into year No. 3. It’s become wildly apparent that the league, which was founded by rapper/actor Ice Cube, is doing something right, as many new sports leagues fail to see growth after their inception. But the BIG3 has done things a bit differently, and part of it stems from the fact that the players are paid well for being a part of the league.
The BIG3, which is made up primarily of former NBA or international professional players, has a pay structure which offers a bit of a moving scale, but even the guaranteed money revealed from the 2018 season was noteworthy. As SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell reported, players in the league received $10,000 per game last season. Assuming that number remains the same, it equates to $90,000 in 2019 over the span of nine weeks.
It’s also worth pointing out that the above number does not include playoff games or any additional bonuses. No specific amount has been revealed for the pay players receive if their teams make the playoffs, although there are bonuses. The weekly salary is also not the only way players will have a chance to make money throughout the year.
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BIG3 Salaries: Revenue Share & Contracts
The projection on weekly game checks of roughly $100,000 or more including the playoffs was the same number revealed near the end of the 2018 BIG3 season by Def Pen’s Esfandiar Baraheni. They cited the added financial security that this league offers to former NBA players while allowing them to continue playing the game they love.
Beyond just their salary, Baraheni points out that the players also receive bonuses based on the team’s performance. Even going one step further, Ice Cube and the BIG3 have made sure to take care of their players by reportedly getting them in on the revenue the league itself draws in.
Per SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell, players not only get their weekly paycheck (which comes after every game) but also a share of more than half of all league revenue. It is worth noting that all of these figures came prior to the 2019 season, so there’s a chance the salary structure and revenue share could have changed or been tweaked a bit.
The players receiving a piece of league revenue adds to the appeal for all parties to continue growing the brand and increasing interest throughout the year.
BIG3 Teams up With CBS After Year 2 Growth
As hard as it is for new sports leagues to get off the ground, it’s even tougher for them to grow after the first year. When a new league, especially with former professional players comes together, the interest right out of the gate will likely be there. But what’s been so impressive about the BIG3 is their growth from year one to year two.
As Maury Brown of Forbes.com reported, the league averaged 10,756 in attendance during the 2017 inaugural season. That number jumped 25 percent to 13,484 (revealed in August of 2018), while the story also notes that the BIG3 drew in north of 16,300 people in the opening weeks of the 2018 season.
The television interest growing has certainly helped the BIG3 and this led to the league announcing that their official broadcast partner in 2019 would be CBS and the CBS Sports Network. Ice Cube released a statement on the move, as CBS Sports’ Kevin Skiver revealed.
Since day 1, BIG3 has always been about hard-nosed, fierce competition. Now we’re ramping it up with more teams, younger players, and a shiny new TV deal with CBS Sports,” Ice Cube said in a statement released Thursday. “Our first two years were about showing that our vision was credible. This year is about taking the game to a whole new level. This is a big deal.
Along with the new television deal to show BIG3 games on CBS networks, the league also signed a three-year deal with Adidas, per PRNewsWire.com. This deal includes BIG3 sneaker, clothing and equipment lines.