The amount of behind-the-scenes series on sports continues to grow, with recent ones including Formula 1: Drive To Survive, 100 Foot Wave, Break Point, Full Swing, Welcome To Wrexham, Chasing History, and many more. The latest one in the works involves the BIG3 three-on-three basketball league, and its co-founder, Ice Cube, with his Cube Vision brand teaming with Jesse Collins Entertainment for this.
EXCLUSIVE: Ice Cube is teaming with Jesse Collins Entertainment on a sports docuseries revolving around his successful Big3 sports league. Ice Cube will star in and produce via his Cube Vision with Jesse Collins Entertainment https://t.co/PPOE8jUcDe
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) April 26, 2023
Jesse Collins Entertainment is founded by Collins, known for producing awards shows including The American Music Awards, the BET Awards, the Soul Train Awards, and the BET Hip Hop Awards. He has also produced a number of specials, including Martin: The Reunion, John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero, and Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration. For this project, he’ll serve as an executive producer for JCE alongside Dionne Harmon and Madison Merritt, with Ice Cube (seen above at a BIG3 game in 2019) and BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz serving as executive producers for Cube Vision.
JCE has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks on the TV side. Thus, an associated Paramount Global brand like Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network may be where this series winds up airing. And CBS’ various platforms have often carried BIG3 games (the league started with Fox, but moved to CBS and CBS Sports Network in 2019; last year, CBS aired 28 hours of coverage, while the other 29 aired on DAZN, Vyre Network, and the league’s YouTube channel), so that makes some sense. Here’s more on what to expect from this docuseries, from that Deadline story by Denise Petski:
Described as Welcome to Wrexham and Cheer meets basketball, the series will be dual-narrative following Cube and the challenges of building a new basketball league from the ground up, as well as the journey of one of the Big3 teams, as they navigate the ups and downs of a grueling season in pursuit of a national championship. Big3’s widely covered $1.2 billion lawsuit against Qatari investors will also be covered in the series.
It’s interesting to hear that the BIG3 lawsuit against the Qatari investors will be covered in this. That 2018-filed lawsuit has seen a lot of twists and turns, including the league firing then-CEO Roger Mason Jr., claiming he brought in Qatari investors who paid him and other executives rather than the league itself. Mason shot back with claims he was terminated in retaliation for legal claims against the league, and with allegations of racist remarks from Kwatinetz.
Later in 2018, the league took out a full-page New York Times ad asking then-President Donald Trump to ask the Emir of Qatar “not to threaten the BIG3 and American athletes.” 2018 also saw one of those Qatari investors, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, granted diplomatic immunity from the lawsuit by the U.S. State Department. The BIG3 also wound up suing its own legal counsel at Quinn Emanuel in May 2020, saying the firm “spied” on the league for Qatar, but settled that suit in June 2020. And they won $21 million in a different defamation lawsuit against the Champions Basketball League in 2019. The current status of many of those legal proceedings isn’t clear, but perhaps this docuseries can provide some insight there when it comes out.
One other notable part of BIG3 history not mentioned in this Deadline article is the 2019 attempt from Ice Cube and Kwatinetz to acquire the former Fox regional sports networks from Disney. That $10 billion bid “for the culture” came with about $3.5 billion of actual funding (with only between $350 million and $500 million of that from the BIG3) and $6.5 billion of debt. Unsurprisingly, it did not prevail, with Sinclair’s $10.6 billion bid eventually winning out. But that bid also had a bunch of debt, and that’s a big part of why those RSNs are now enmeshed in bankruptcy court proceedings. It’s not clear how things would have gone if Ice Cube and Kwatinetz had landed those RSNs, but it’s an interesting alternate history to consider. And it will be interesting to see if that’s discussed in this series. We’ll have to keep an eye on this, and see if it winds up making it to series and where it winds up airing.
[Deadline; photo from Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports]