Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

BIG3 returns to the Barclays Center in eight weeks to play their championship. Why? Becuase how could you forget the “Mecca of Basketball.”

For basketball fans, is there any holier place than New York City? It’s the “Mecca of Basketball” and despite the recent and repetitive ineptitude of the New York Knicks, New York City will always remain an integral part of basketball history. From Rucker Park to Madison Square Garden, the five boroughs are ripe with interesting facts and notions regarding the game that James Naismith masterminded 127 years ago.

Red Auerbach fell in love with the game on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Stephon Marbury starred for Lincoln High School before his time in the NBA and China. Chris Mullin became a hometown hero after leading Xaverian High School to a New York State championship and propelling St. John’s to the Final Four. Nate “Tiny” Archibald built his legend on the blacktops of the Bronx. Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Willis Reed brought home two championships to Madison Square Garden, an unprecedented feat that has yet to be repeated.  I could go on, but I would prefer not to stick any reader with a 10,000-word article.

At the conclusion of their 10-week season, BIG3 will return to New York to play its championship game. While it’s not being played at “the world’s most famous arena,” it is still extremely significant to bring this upstart league into New York during its most prominent week of the season.

“I think it’s great planning by the co-founders, Jeff Kwatinetz, Ice Cube,” BIG3 commissioner Clyde Drexler told Elite Sports NY. “First game of the first season of the BIG3 was in Brooklyn and we had 15,000 people in a line around the building. Now if that’s not a great welcoming and a great start to a new league, then you tell me what is. So, we want to reward them by going back for the championship week.”

And just as Drexler pointed out, it was strategic to open the inaugural season of BIG3 in Brooklyn at the Barclay’s Center. With the improved buzz and popularity that is following this new venture in 2018, it only makes sense to bring its pinnacle back to arguably the most prominent basketball city on planet earth. Erin Thorn, a former WNBA player who was drafted by the Liberty and spent six seasons in New York also weighed in on the significance of playing the championship game in New York.

“To be in New York for the championship is perfect,” Thorn said to Elite Sports NY. “There is no better place to be. I think the energy will be live in there and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

As a member of BIG3’s community outreach program, Thorn travels with the league and performs youth clinics all around the country and just so happens to work with another person who has experience with New York, former Knick Jerome Williams.

Williams is no stranger to the importance of basketball in New York either. It was there that he had to chance to play with a very talented group of players that included Allen Houston, Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway, and Jamal Crawford just to name a few.

“Being a former New York Knick, I played in the ‘Mecca’,” Williams said to Elite Sports NY. “Now this year is going to be the championship, so it’s gonna be awesome.”

Eight weeks from now the two best teams in BIG3 will step onto the court of the Barclays Center and battle for three-on-three supremacy. What better place to do so than the very heart of the basketball universe? We may be a long way off from seeing the Knicks or Nets parade down the Canyon of Heroes, but at least one champion will be crowned in New York come August.

A former disciple of Stan Fischler. IBWAA member. Bylines at Baseball Prospectus Mets, Elite Sports New York, and my own creation: Baseknock MLB. Formerly Amazin' Avenue of SB Nation. Proud UAlbany Alum.