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Gilbert Arenas Exposes Ice Cube’s Big 3’s Financial Problems Amid $5 Million Offer to Caitlin Clark

Published 04/15/2024, 9:21 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

Ice Cube’s Big3 league is not new to making headlines. They got everyone to take notice when they appointed Nancy Lieberman as the first female coach of a men’s pro team in 2018. And this year in March, they turned their attention to acquiring the services of NCAA’s record basketball scorer Caitlin Clark. During March Madness, Big3 made a historic offer to Clark, but do they have the financial muscle to pull off this move?
The “Caitlin Clark Effect” was in full swing when it was reported that Big3 had made a staggering $5 million offer to Clark. Ice Cube confirmed the news and said they have plans in place to allow Clark to play in the WNBA while also showing up in the Big3. Since then neither WNBA nor Clark has said much about the offer, but Gilbert Arenas who is not shy about voicing his opinion has shared his take on the Big3’s financial capability.

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Gilbert Arenas joined FYF Sports Debates and spoke about the financial challenges faced by Ice Cube’s Big 3 League. He said, “Let me just cut they ain’t no five million.” Arenas then explained how the players in Big3 earn money and why he thinks the league doesn’t have the financial muscle to sign Clark.

He explained, “This is how their deals is done. The main captains they get eight grand if they win. So it’s like so it’s seven grand, eight if they win, six if they lose, that’s the main guy. Then the two under him like the two second captains, they get six grand, seven if they win five the the rest of the draft picks they get five regular six if they win four if they lose per per week.”

“So you’re saying she’s going to come in there and get 600,000 per game what you ain’t got that kind of money I’mma just be honest with you,” he added.

USA Today via Reuters

According to Arenas, the league’s business model is suffering because of Ice Cube’s business partners. Revealing that the partners are rubbing people the wrong way and damaging his name. In the above-mentioned video Arenas also questioned why the league would want to own the teams and players. Arenas also revealed information about how CBS is not paying the Big3 league for broadcasting their games but instead, it’s the league that is paying to stay on TV.
Arenas mentioned because the league wanted national recognition they are paying CBS for the broadcasting. “So let’s say they go out and raise 7 million. From the 7 million goes to two million goes to CBS. Then five million goes to the salaries booking tickets and all that stuff that have you.
The financial troubles of Big3 were highlighted in 2022 when former Nick Young claimed the league failed to keep up with its payment schedule for players during the season. Given the claims by Arenas, it would make sense for Big3 to go all in to sign Clark after she proved herself as a major TV draw during the NCAA run this season.

Can the “Caitlin Clark effect” save Ice Cube’s Big3 from bleeding money?

When asked about Ice Cube’s offer back in March, Clark said that “she learned about it at “the same exact time you all did.”  She added, “I honestly don’t talk about those things with really anybody. I have other people that deal with it. They haven’t said a word to me about it.” 
It is clear that Clark is a crowd-puller and with her impending move to WNBA, it will be interesting to see if she can draw similar numbers there as well. Clearly, she is a name that can help the Big3 grow bigger.
Clark’s games for the Iowa Hawkeyes have broken viewership records from the Elite 8 stage up to the NCAA championship final. More than 12 million people watched 2 April’s Elite Eight matchup against LSU, where Clark scored 41 points. In the Final Four game between Iowa and UConn game was witnessed by 14.2 million viewers, peaking at 17M to become the most-watched basketball matchup at any level on ESPN.
Then the championship game between Iowa and South Carolina averaged 18.7 million viewers, making it the highest-rated basketball game in five years, men’s or women’s, at any level. In comparison, Big3 averaged 515,000 viewers for CBS last year.

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While confirming Clark’s offer on the ‘Pat McAfee Show’ in March, Ice Cube said, “Clark is a special player that’s moving the needles in a lot of different areas — ratings, attendance, ticket sales. So of course, our sponsors are very interested in a player like this.” Ice Cube also made it clear

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Interestingly, Ice Cube’s offer will almost certainly dwarf what Clark will earn from rookie WNBA season. Top WNBA players usually earn six-figure salaries per year, hence the Big3’s offer of $5 million for a handful of games is surely enticing. As Clark gears up for her WNBA career, it remains to be seen if she considers Ice Cube’s pitch and even then the question remains will the WNBA allow her to compete in both leagues.

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Written by:

Pranav Kotai

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Pranav Kotai is an NBA beat writer at EssentiallySports. With a master's in sports management and a lifelong passion for basketball, Pranav has an eye for understanding NBA like no other. Pranav is an open encyclopedia of all storylines, with a well-rounded approach to his writing, especially for his favorites like NBA legends Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph