SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The nation’s best 3 on 3 basketball players are in Springfield this weekend, facing off at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The players warm up before their games on half courts outside the Hall of Fame. Many of them played in college and some professionally. They told 22News what makes this sport different, and how it feels to be playing at the hall of fame.
“We’ve been doing this since 2014, through it all and to see this sport grow to what it has become and to come to a historic place, Springfield and the Basketball Hall of Fame, is really special to us,” said Craig Moore. Moore played ball at Northwestern University and is now one of the top shooters on “Team Princeton”.
The 3×3 dynamic is a very different game. The first team to 21 wins and they shoot 2’s instead of 3’s. Condensing it to a half court, also makes the sport more physical and fast pace.
“It’s a little tougher, you know, you almost have to wear pads out there sometimes,” Moore continued. “What’s unique is, you can literally put the court anywhere in the mall, in the museum, so it’s very fan-friendly. And you get instant gratification. It’s 10 minutes a game.”
The 3×3 match is now an international sport, and is played at the World Cup and Olympics level.
“Internationally, they started in 2010 and they had it with Youth Olympics and it became one of the most popular sports immediately,” said Craig Miller, Chief Communications Officer for USA Basketball.
Miller said players have to qualify to play in international events by earning points in 3 on 3 tournaments throughout the year. The USA women’s 3×3 team has earned a place at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
This year marked the ninth edition of the 3×3 Nationals, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. All players were tested for COVID-19 prior to playing.