As the Big3 approaches midseason and a showdown at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, the last week and change for Allen Iverson and the startup traveling league has been a bit rocky.
Iverson himself stalled hype for the league ever so slightly last week, getting pulled from the action on short notice before a hometown return in front of a Philadelphia crowd.
Counteracting the setback, though, are the first two trades in league history, one undefeated team left standing and what is sure to be a chaotic sprint to the playoffs, starting with high-profile Week 5 matchups.
Here's a look at everything to know about Week 5, located in one of basketball's most iconic cities.
Big3 Week 5 Viewing Information
When: Sunday, July 23
Where: UIC Pavilion, Chicago
TV: Airs on FS1 Monday, July 24, at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Big3 Week 5 Schedule
Game 1: Ball Hogs vs. Power
Game 2: Tri State vs. Trilogy
Game 3: 3's Company vs. 3 Headed Monsters
Game 4: Killer 3s vs. Ghost Ballers
Game 1: Ball Hogs (Brian Scalabrine, Josh Childress, Derrick Byars, Rasual Butler, Xavier Silas) vs. Power (Kendall Gill, Jerome Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Moochie Norris)
Game 2: Tri-State (Jermaine O'Neal, Bonzi Wells, Dominic McGuire, Lee Nailon, Mike James) vs. Trilogy (Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington, Rashad McCants, James White, Dion Glover)
Game 3: 3's Company (Allen Iverson, DerMarr Johnson, Andre Owens, Mike Sweetney, Ruben Patterson, Al Thornton) vs. 3 Headed Monsters (Rashard Lewis, Kwame Brown, Eddie Basden, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf)
Game 4: Killer 3s (Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, Reggie Evans, Mo Evans, Brian Cook) vs. Ghost Ballers (Mike Bibby, Ricky Davis, Larry Hughes, Marcus Banks, Ivan Johnson)
The biggest storyline coming out of Week 4, clearly, was Iverson's inability to give it a go in front of his home crowd.
Before the games started, he sent a heartfelt message to his fans and they still welcomed him with open arms, as captured by the venue:
On the court, Iverson's 3's Company went down at the hands of Julius Erving's Tri-State in a battle of Philadelphia legends. Iverson's side got 20 points and five rebounds from Al Thornton in the 51-44 loss, but Jermaine O’Neal and others from Tri-State were able to fend off a comeback bid late.
Erving was one of many to talk up the special night.
"Big3 is a new concept, but it's an old story," Erving said, according to Craig Ellenport of Big3.com. "It's about playing ball the way we all learned how to play ball out in the playground, like the playgrounds all around Philadelphia."
Elsewhere, Power's DeShawn Stevenson—a clear MVP favorite—dropped 17 points in a win against Ghost Ballers. Trilogy remained undefeated thanks to 20 points from Rashad McCants, though Ball Hogs' Xavier Silas kept things close with 17 points of his own in the seven-point loss.
Silas gets a nod here because he served as a centerpiece in the league's first-ever trade, as noted by HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy:
The above was a small splash in the pond compared to what followed only a few days ago, according to Big3:
Funnily enough, both Mo Evans and Larry Hughes will go right out and face their former teams as the Killer 3s, led by Chauncey Billups, look to climb out of the cellar and inch closer to the 2-2 Ghost Ballers.
That contest is the final of the day, which is rather reflective of the week as a hole. The 3-1 Power shouldn't have too many problems with the 1-3 Ball Hogs, in large part because Jerome Williams keeps putting up strong performances next to Stevenson.
Second, Tri-State will try to make it two in a row, though it's a case of easier said than done against the undefeated Trilogy. Kenyon Martin returns to settle down next to Al Harrington, a size tandem sure to give any team problems.
In the third game, 3's Company will claw for entry into the playoff conversation while searching for answers against the 3 Headed Monsters, though most of the league has yet to find a way to slow the Rashard Lewis-Kwame Brown combo.
When it comes to storylines, Week 5 features another homecoming, though on a smaller scale. Former Chicago Bulls player Kendall Gill now suits up for Power, though he's a good illustration of how many guys didn't initially make the cut with the Big3—until an injury had the same guys who passed on drafting him calling for his services.
"I felt like I played really well (at the combine)," Gill said, according to the Daily Herald's Mike McGraw. "I totally expected to be drafted, but it didn't happen. I couldn't do anything about it. It was up to the captains.
Speaking of injuries, Iverson remains the center of attention in this regard. League runner Ice Cube is "hopeful" he can play, but stressed a bigger point in a recent interview with Joe Reedy of the Associated Press (via the Westport News).
"I don't think our league hinges on Allen Iverson as people see," Cube said. "We think it is better for the fans and league if he does play, but if he doesn't, we're still going to have great basketball that people want to see."
So far, Cube's league has hit on this theme quite well. Solid defense has been a staple of the league and the rigorous draft and omission process has shown the league's quality on-court play is worth catching, especially this time of year.
Fans can expect more of the same as the playoff race heats up this Sunday.
Stats and information courtesy of Big3.com unless otherwise specified.