SALT LAKE CITY — Entertaining. Relaxed. Fun. These are just three words you might use to describe the Big3 basketball league.
This league is played as a half-court, 3-on-3 game where the first team to reach 50 points wins the game, and players can earn anywhere from 1 to 4 points off a single shot.
While competition is important for the teams, the entertainment factor is also key, The league was created by fans for fans, and the crowd is just as much a part of the game as the players are.
Week 6 of the league stopped in Salt Lake this weekend, and featured three games with six different teams made up of former NBA players and coaches.
Game one resulted in a 51-41 win by 3’s Company over the Killer 3’s. The Triplets won game two over the Ball Hogs with a score of 51-34, and in game three, Bivouac beat the Aliens, 50-47.
Three former Jazz players returned to Salt Lake, and they competed against each other in the second game of the evening. DeShawn Stevenson plays for the Ball Hogs, 0-6, and was on the Jazz roster from 2000-2004.
Stevenson scored 12 points for his team, had six rebounds and four each of field goals and three-pointers.
Al Jefferson and Joe Johnson are both on the roster for the Triplets, who were 5-1 at the end of Saturday. Jefferson was with the Jazz for three seasons from 2010-2013, while Johnson played with the team for two seasons before being traded in February 2018.
Following their fifth tournament win, both Johnson and Jefferson spoke highly of their experiences in Salt Lake City and playing in front of familiar fans.
“It’s always a great crowd here. I used to hate coming here when I was on other teams … but to come back today and see that same energy is always great,” said Jefferson.
Jefferson contributed 12 points to the Triplets 51 total points in their win over the Ball Hogs. He led the squad with seven rebounds and had five field goals.
Johnson is currently leading the Big3 league in scoring, and he was responsible for 21 points this evening, as well as four steals, six field goals and three three-point shots.
“I look forward to every city we go to, getting the chance to build camaraderie with these guys and learn one another and continue to play hard each and every weekend, you know, giving these fans a show,” Johnson said of his experience with the team, “And not only that: We aim to win. We have a great group and we all have one common goal.”
After receiving a standing ovation when he entered the arena, Johnson hit a four point shot at the beginning of the game which sent Salt Lake fans back up in a roar of applause.
“My years here were awesome, I enjoyed it and it was great to see the crowd come out and show us a lot of love tonight,” Johnson said.
The Triplets are coached by former MVP Lisa Leslie, who played in the WNBA for 12 seasons, and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The roster is rounded out with Alan Anderson, Jannero Pargo, Sergerio Gipson and Jamario Moon. Moon is the most recent acquisition, as he was traded to the team during Week 4.
Jefferson spoke highly of the Jazz players and the coaching staff, and he expressed his continued support of the program and all involved in it.
“I look forward to watching the Jazz play this year. They have a lot of great additions which should put them right at one of the top sports in the West.”
Next weekend, the Big3 tournament will move on, to Chicago, with three games on the afternoon of August 3rd.