Big 3 delaying pre-season tournament and regular season amid coronavirus concerns

The Big 3 will delay a quarantined, reality show 3-on-3 pre-season basketball tournament from this month to either August or September because of ongoing concerns about the novel coronavirus, a person familiar with the developments told USA TODAY Sports. The Big 3, which originally planned to begin its fourth season on June 20 in Memphis, is aiming to start the season in either the fall or the winter, the person added.

“It’s a fluid situation,” a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s hard to provide a fixed date, but it’s happening.”

The person was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to share details publicly.

The Big 3 partnered with Endemal, a media production company that has produced “Big Brother” and other highly-rated reality shows, to launch a pre-season tournament beginning in the first week of May in Los Angeles.

The Big 3 and Endemal planned to test the participating 16 players and officials before  quarantining them in a newly constructed home in L.A. and then playing in a local to-be-determined venue. Though Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced last week that free tests are available for those that live in Los Angeles, Big 3 and Endemal still remained sensitive to the testing shortages elsewhere and safety concerns for those traveling out of state.

The Big 3 and Endemal are still finalizing the participants in the reality show three-on-three tournament. But they confirmed participants for its fourth season on Tuesday about the league’s delay. That list is also not fully finalized, but the Big 3 had already received commitments for its 12-team league. That included former NBA players Zach Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Greg Oden, Al Jefferson and Nate Robinson. Among the committed coaches include a handful of former NBA stars (Julius Erving, Rick Barry, George Gervin, Gary Payton) and WNBA luminaries (Lisa Leslie, Nancy Lieberman).

The Big 3 originally planned to hold games this season in Memphis (June 20), New York (June 27) and Portland (Aug. 22), while six of its other games would have taken place in L.A. (July 11-Aug. 15). A person familiar with the details told USA TODAY Sports that only a “handful” of tickets had been sold, while the varying logistics regarding possible refunds or credits are “being worked out.” As USA TODAY Sports previously reported, the Big 3 were among one of several sports leagues on a conference call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 28.

Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz previously told USA TODAY Sports that he and Ice Cube, the other Big3 co-founder and hip hop mogul, remained flexible on when to launch operations both because of their extensive planning and to account for public safety.

"Ice Cube and I are in the business of entertaining people," Kwatinetz said in late March. "In times like this, they need entertainment. We have to make sure it’s safe and that the basketball is credible and really competitive. We feel like we’re able to do that."

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