ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 21: Ice Cube poses on the red carpet prior to the BIG3 Championship at State Farm Arena on August 21, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images for BIG3)

U.S. Department of Justice Investigates NBA Over Allegations of Obstructing Ice Cube's Big3 League

U.S. Department of Justice Investigates NBA Over Allegations of Obstructing Ice Cube's Big3 League

Published Tue, October 24, 2023 at 11:00 AM EDT

TMZ Sports reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations that the NBA is attempting to obstruct the growth of Ice Cube's Big3 basketball league. The NBA denies these allegations.

The DOJ initiated the inquiry months ago, as reported by TMZ Sports, and it is examining claims of anticompetitive behavior by the NBA. These allegations range from purportedly discouraging sponsors and other partners from engaging with the Big3 to dissuading TV networks from broadcasting Big3 games. Ice Cube's Big3 league, primarily composed of retired NBA players, was launched in 2017 in partnership with his business associate, Jeff Kwatinetz.

Reportedly, some current players have expressed interest in participating in Cube's league during the offseason. However, according to the Big3, the NBA is perceived to have obstructed this by implementing arbitrary rules, even though the seasons do not overlap. TMZ Sports also reports that "NBA owners have been discouraged from investing in the Big3 while simultaneously owning an NBA franchise."

According to a source from TMZ Sports, referees have also allegedly been informed that they cannot officiate for the Big3, even if they work for organizations outside of the NBA. The outlet additionally mentions that a source familiar with the Department of Justice investigation stated that Cube and Kwatinetz met with DOJ lawyers during the first half of the year, and investigators have started reaching out to NBA owners as part of their inquiry.

Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, addressed the allegations with TMZ Sports, stating, "Those claims are not true." He further added, "We have been supportive of the Big3 since its inception but declined to invest."

If the DOJ determines that the NBA committed antitrust violations, the league could potentially face a substantial fine.

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