Some like to say that Memphis has two professional basketball teams — the Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers. Kevin LuBahn is hoping to add a third.
LuBahn is founder of 3BA, a professional three-on-three basketball league modeled after arena football. The league, if it takes off, would play an April-to-August season to avoid going against the five-man games of the NBA, with tickets at a family-friendly price. Currently on a five-city tour drumming up fan and potential franchisee interest, 3BA will stop by the DeSoto Civic Center on Saturday for a game pitting Portland's team, coached by former L.A. Laker A.C. Green, against a team made up in part with regional players.
"There's ambivalence to us and skepticism. We expect that," LuBahn says. "When you say three-on-three basketball, the first thing that comes to mind is a grassroots, outdoor tournament. We're not outdoors. We're not street ball. We are a professional sport."
3BA is played on a specially designed 72-foot-long, 50-foot-wide court, and most of the players have experience playing with Division 1 colleges. With four 11-minute quarters, an 18-second shot clock, and a rule that all offensive players must be in the front court when three-point shots (at 22 feet) are made, the game is exceedingly fast. Players in the point-guard, shooting-guard, and small-forward positions must have skill and stamina, LuBahn says.
3BA's small staff has been working hard to get the league up and running. "We'll be touring, and we will be pushing toward franchise by April of next year or April 2010," LuBahn says. "We've gotten a lot of interest so far in franchising. In fact, that building over there, the Pyramid — I'd love to put a franchise in there and start that thing up again."
3BA Portland Vs. Memphis, Saturday, August 16th, 7 p.m. at the DeSoto Civic Center. $18. For more information, go to 3BA.com.