Ice Cube's three-on-three basketball league, Big3, will begin its second season on June 22 in Houston. The league has added a bunch of new marquee names, but it has also dealt with some difficult legal circumstances between seasons.
In addition to transitioning between commissioners, as Roger Mason was fired, the league has faced a lawsuit from the Champions Basketball League, which claims the Big3 stole its idea. Furthermore, Ice Cube's three-on-three outfit has been entangled in a lawsuit with Qatar investors who allegedly failed to follow through on their financial commitments.
That case has taken an interesting turn, as Ice Cube and co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz have reportedly testified that the backers invested in an attempt to access Steve Bannon, who was President Donald Trump's chief strategist at the time. Bannon and Kwatinetz have worked together in the past (at TV production company The Firm), and Kwatinetz confirmed they remain "friends."
The Big3 is suing the Qatari investors for $1.2 billion. According to the league's co-founders' declarations in Los Angeles Tuesday, the investors sought "positive public relations for Qatar."
One of the men is a former Qatari diplomat in the United States named Ahmed al Rumaihi. According to the testimony, al Rumaihi bragged about bribing "several Washington politicians" including former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, who was deeply entangled in all the Russia drama. Additionally, al Rumaihi allegedly sought to "underwrite all of Bannon's political efforts in return for his support."
Kwatinetz testified: "Mr. al Rumaihi requested I set up a meeting between him, the Qatari government, and Steven Bannon, and to tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support."
Kwatinetz claims he refused to set up the meeting. The response from al-Rumaihi, according to Kwatinetz's testimony: "Mr. Al-Rumahi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn't be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money, and stated, 'do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?'"
Two other investors involved in the suit allegedly have connections to the Qatari royal family. Sport Trinity released the following statement:
"Simply put, the statements in Mr. Kwatinetz's declaration are pure Hollywood fiction. Mr. Kwatinetz is engaging in a xenophobic PR smear campaign against Sport Trinity, the largest investor in BIG3 basketball, to cover up his own mismanagement and erratic behavior with respect to the league. Mr. Kwatinetz's commercial dispute with Sport Trinity is meritless."
The full Big3 season two schedule is available here.