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Gary Payton and Rashard Lewis involved in new pro basketball league

Rashard Lewis #7/Gary Payton #20

Rapper and actor Ice Cube is forming a new basketball league, and he’s bringing some former Seattle SuperSonics with him.

Cube and his longtime business partner, Hollywood CEO Jeff Kwatinetz, have created a three-on-three, half-court basketball league for retired NBA players called the BIG3 that will begin playing next summer. “I thought of this concept as a fan who got sick of seeing his heroes retire and not play anymore,” Ice Cube told The Vertical. “A lot of these guys can still play once they retire – just not the back-to-backs or four games in five nights.

“I started to look at three-on-three basketball and wondered, ‘Why isn’t this played on a pro level?’ It’s the most normal form of basketball. And from there it was like, ‘Yo, why don’t we make this happen?’”

With a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, NBA Players Association Deputy executive director Roger Mason, Jr. will be resigning from that post to become President and Commissioner of the new league. Mason had a ten-year playing career, playing for the Spurs, Knicks, and Heat, among others, as well as teams in Greece and Israel.

What does all this have to do with the Sonics? Well, among the players who have already agreed to play in the BIG3 is former Sonics forward Rashard Lewis. Lewis was the 32nd pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and played for Seattle from 1998 to 2007, averaging 16.6 points per game. Other players include Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal, and Jason Williams.

The league will feature eight teams of five players, and each team will have an ex-player as a coach. Only one former player has been announced, and that player is Sonics legend and Hall of Famer Gary Payton. Payton previously worked with the Milwaukee Bucks in an unofficial capacity and was rumored at one time to join the Lakers coaching staff. He also served as an analyst on Fox Sports 1.

The BIG3 is currently shopping for a television deal and is scheduled to tip off on June 24th, touring cities throughout the summer for 10 consecutive weeks. The teams will take part in a four-game basketball festival which will also include musical acts and other entertainment.

What other former Sonics would you like to see in the BIG3?