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BIG3 Officially Certified as First Black-owned Sports League

In a groundbreaking moment for pro sports, ByBlack and the US Black Chambers have officially acknowledged the basketball league as a Black-owned and operated company.

On Friday, the BIG3 basketball league announced that it has been certified as a Black-owned and operated business by ByBlack and US Black Chambers, Inc. The innovative 3-on-3 competition is now the first and only professional sports league to receive such official acknowledgment.

Rapper, actor, and entrepreneur Ice Cube originally launched the BIG3 back in 2017 alongside entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz. The league wrapped its fifth season earlier this year and recently began selling ownership-like franchise stakes powered by blockchain technology. Notable people who have bought teams include Snoop Dogg and Ken Howery, Gary Vaynerchuk, and DeGods.

As Ice Cube said on the occasion:

“Myself and the entire league are honored to be officially certified by ByBlack and the US Black Chambers. From day one, the league has been dedicated to providing opportunities for Black players, fans, investors, and partners, and we are proud to be a part of a nationwide network of Black business owners. Supporting Black enterprise is a lifelong passion of mine and the BIG3 will continue to build upon its successes and lift up other Black entrepreneurs.”

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While there are several athletes and businessmen and businesswomen who own major investment stakes in individual franchises, there are no professional sports leagues with operational structures resembling the BIG3 and its Ice Cube-led group of equity partners. The main reason for this is simple — nearly all sports leagues are consortiums in which individual franchise owners hold an equal portion in the league itself. This is the prevailing model we see in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL.

ByBlack is a nonprofit, organization that aims to develop solutions “to the generational problems of the Black economic agenda.” The organization’s goal is to create economic opportunities for Black people from within its network.

“USBC is energized by the BIG3 basketball league becoming a certified ByBlack business. This is the first step of what we deem to be a fruitful partnership, with Ice Cube’s commitment to helping other Black-owned businesses get ByBlack certified. We applaud Ice Cube for leading the way in this initiative and it is our goal to continue this partnership by collaborating with Ice Cube, BIG3, and other Black-owned businesses in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Ron Busby Sr., CEO and President of USBC.

Outside of the certification, Ice Cube struck a partnership with the NFL through his Contract with Black America Institute earlier this year to further the growth and empowerment of Black-owned business. As part of the deal, the two organizations will focus on helping Black founders build lasting equity in the finance and technology industries, and the BIG3 has already begun making waves with regards to the latter — the league recently introduced Heat Vision, specialized 3-on-3 shot tracking software powered by Microsoft Azure and Noah Basketball Analytics. The software allows players to have access to real-time data on every single shot’s arc, rotation, and depth, and will feature significantly throughout the course of the 2023 BIG3 season that tips off next summer.

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About The Author
Randall Williams
Randall Williams
Randall Williams is a Staff Writer covering sports business and music for Boardroom. Before joining the team, he previously worked for Sportico, Andscape and Bloomberg. His byline has also been syndicated in the Boston Globe and Time Magazine. Williams' notable profile features he has written include NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent, Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim Hamad, BMX biker Nigel Sylvester and both Shedeur and Shilo Sanders. Randall, a graduate of "The Real HU" - Hampton University - is most proud of scooping Howard University joining Jordan Brand nearly three months before the official announcement.