Ice Cube and his crew are bringing their popular 3-on-3 basketball tour to Philadelphia, with Allen Iverson, Dr. J and other local products coming with them. Who knows how Sunday could turn out?
"Basically make it a party for them," Ice Cube said of the goal, and judging by the cast, there's no other way for it to turn out.
The rapper and actor's high-profile new basketball league, BIG3, will play its fourth week Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center. There will be four 3-on-3 games, each up to 60 points.
The main event will be the final game, when player-coach Iverson and 3's Company will battle the Julius Erving-coached Tri-State team. Local products on other teams include Cuttino Mobley (who attended the now-closed Cardinal Dougherty) and Rasual Butler (Roman Catholic/La Salle).
All the league's players were once in the NBA. The youngest is 29-year-old Xavier Silas; the oldest, Charles Oakley, 53, player-coach of the Killer 3s.
But the more enticing part of the tour is the spectacle — half-court, 3-on-3 action featuring celebrities. Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, an entertainment executive from California, founded the league. Iverson was a driving force. NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and retired star Tracy McGrady were among courtside faces when BIG3 held games Sunday in Tulsa, Okla. More will converge this weekend.
"We expect Philadelphia to be rowdy and having fun and enjoying this thing," Ice Cube said.
The first game will tip off at 6 p.m., the only evening start of the season, because of concerns about converting the Wells Fargo after the Soul game Saturday night. The opening week in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 26 drew more than 15,000 fans. The league's leadership expects a bigger crowd Sunday.
A main attraction, in Ice Cube's view, is trash talk between basketball icons. From the jump, 65-year-old George Gervin and 55-year-old Clyde Drexler will coach against each other. Rick Mahorn, who played for the 76ers from 1989-1991 and 1998-1999, coaches the undefeated Trilogy team led by Kenyon Martin and Al Harrington.
And Iverson and Erving will battle for basketball supremacy in Philadelphia.
"I just think it's something you can't miss, if you're a basketball fan, if you're an Allen Iverson fan, if you're a Dr. J fan," Ice Cube said. "Sitting there and coming to a Sixers game and waving is different than seeing him in competition. And I just think it's going to be a great event for Philadelphia."
Besides catering to a hungry audience, the league started out of retired players' desire to play and compete without having to weather the grind of a full-court, 82-game season. Along the way, the tour brings players to the city where they became famous.
"We just hope that we can get all the city out to support the BIG3 and its two native sons coming back," Ice Cube said. "That's what we expect."
Event: Week 4 of the inaugural BIG3 3-on-3 basketball season.
Where: Wells Fargo Center.
When: Sunday, 6 p.m.
Schedule: Ghost Ballers vs. Power (Cuttino Mobley), Trilogy vs. Ball Hogs (Rasual Butler), Killer 3s vs. 3-Headed Monsters, 3's Company (Allen Iverson) vs. Tri-State (Julius Erving).
Format: Eight weeks of regular season, followed by playoffs Aug. 20 in Seattle and championship at MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Aug. 26.