By Max Godnick
Twenty-three years after winning an NBA championship, Clyde Drexler is changing the game.
The Basketball Hall of Famer is now the commissioner and president of The BIG3, a professional three-on-three league composed entirely of former NBA players. In just its sophomore season, the league is already airing games in every TV market in the U.S. and drawing an average attendance of over 11,500 people across 10 cities ー bigger crowds than most college basketball games.
"We're changing the game and The BIG3 is here to stay," Drexler said Thursday in an interview on Cheddar.
The BIG3 is breaking boundaries and reaching milestones that still seem out of bounds for more established leagues like the NBA or NFL. This week, Nancy Lieberman, the head coach of the team Power, was named Coach of the Year. None of the country's four largest professional leagues have yet hired a female coach.
"Women are capable. It just depends on can they do the job or not," Drexler said. "Hopefully that will follow suit in every sporting league."
The BIG3 this year also became the first professional sports league to permit the use of CBD for athletes' pain management and recovery. Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring chemical compound in cannabis that doesn't cause the psychoactive effects ー the "high" ー commonly associated with marijuana.
"They are using it, and some of them love it," Drexler said of The BIG3's athletes. "It's a good alternative, and you can't turn down good, healthy, natural alternatives when it comes to pain."
Kobe Bryant's representatives shot down rumors this week that the superstar is considering joining The BIG3 next year. But the league already counts plenty of NBA All-Stars, including Baron Davis, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Kenyon Martin, among its ranks. And Drexler plans to court others.
"[We want] Tim Duncan, we want Paul Pierce, we want Ray Allen, we want a bunch of guys other than Kobe," he said. "You've got to play somewhere, so why not come play with us?"
In the last decade, critics have slammed the NBA for distributing superstar power unevenly on their rosters. If some of The BIG3's teams were active years earlier, they might be considered superteams, too.
But Drexler, who played on a Houston Rockets team alongside fellow stars Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, isn't here for the hand-wringing.
"The superteams are the teams that make good decisions," he said.
Drexler's advice to those just trying to keep up?
"Get better players."
For full interview [click here] (https://cheddar.com/videos/clyde-drexler-on-the-big3s-big-year).