The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an inquiry into the NBA, alleging that the Association engaged in anticompetitive behavior to undermine Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league. Cube and his business partner Jeff Kwatinetz founded the 3-on-3 league in 2017, consisting primarily of retired NBA players. However, the NBA denies these allegations, claiming that they have been supportive of the Big3 since its inception.
According to sources familiar with the investigation, the DOJ has been examining various claims, including the NBA leveraging its influence to prevent potential sponsors and partners from collaborating with the Big3. Additionally, the NBA has allegedly discouraged television networks from broadcasting Big3 games. These actions, if proven true, could be seen as attempts to stifle the growth and success of Cube’s league. Despite some NBA players expressing interest in playing for the Big3 during the offseason, the league has allegedly placed arbitrary rules to prevent their participation.
Unfair Targeting and Restrictions
Big3 officials, feeling unfairly targeted by the NBA, are frustrated by the alleged actions taken against their league. It has been reported that NBA owners have been discouraged from investing in the Big3 while simultaneously owning an NBA franchise. Furthermore, referees have been told that they are not allowed to officiate for the Big3, even if they work for other organizations outside of the NBA.
Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz met with DOJ lawyers during the first half of the year, indicating the seriousness of the investigation. In their efforts to gather information, investigators have also reached out to NBA owners. Should the government find evidence of antitrust violations, the NBA may face significant fines.
Denials from the NBA
NBA spokesman Mike Bass responded to the allegations, stating that they were not true. He asserted that the NBA has been supportive of the Big3 from the beginning but chose not to invest in the league. The league declined to comment further on the matter.
The NBA’s involvement in the Big3 antitrust investigation raises questions about unfair competition and the league’s alleged attempts to hinder the success of its rival. As the DOJ continues its inquiry, the outcome of this investigation will have significant implications not only for the NBA but also for the future of alternative basketball leagues.