Around 12 months ago, there was a genuine prospect of LeBron James coming to Australia and playing basketball.
Per Wednesday’s National Basketball League (NBL) Media Release, Basketball Australia and the NBL have teamed up to announce its rollout of 3×3 basketball to Australians.
The new league will be called 3×3 Hustle and will be played in April/May this year.
The 3×3 Hustle concept is a cool idea, which is bound to be successful from grassroots up. 3×3 basketball is an immensely popular basketball format made famous in streetball leagues the world over and allows players to showcase more of their individual abilities.
Per the release, “The 3×3 Hustle will have a number of entry levels from street level to the professional level. It will consist of eight professional teams and eight teams from the Big Hustle, a state-based 3×3 championship to be played in the lead-up to the Pro Hustle. There will also be a Street Hustle comprising of suburban teams and Urban Hustle made up of regional teams.”
This is a great initiative which is bound to continue fostering the rapidly-growing game in Australia. The 3×3 league will encourage greater participation in basketball, and provide a ‘lite version’ of the real game for those who are time-strapped, or even interested in trying something new.
The big problem with this new league is how it’s being marketed. The media release included the following excerpt:
“With 3×3 a major player on the international sporting landscape and an Olympic sport for the first time in Tokyo in 2020, the 3×3 Hustle will provide a pathway for aspiring players to go from the suburbs of Australia to competing on the world stage.”
The 3×3 Hustle league has absolutely nothing to do with Australia’s Olympic basketball prospects. The reason is, NBA players will be playing in the Olympics in 2020. Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles all come to mind ahead of any potential streetball players.
If by 2020, there aren’t 12 Australian NBA players, the bench spots will be filled by players from the NBL.
I am not taking anything away from the concept, as it’s one of the most creative and refreshing things to come out of Australian basketball in years. But let’s not pretend like the future of Australian Olympic basketball is through a 3×3 league.
NBA players (and for now, NBL players) have and always will be the best players out there.