Team USA has one more Olympic basketball event to dominate come 2020. The International Olympic Committee announced on Friday that 3-on-3 basketball will officially be added to the Tokyo games in 2020.
The men’s and women’s basketball variant joins skateboarding and sport climbing as new Olympic events that will make their debut in Tokyo.
A 3-on-3 tournament nearly made it into the Rio Games in 2016 but that movement was paused, mostly because that Olympiad was woefully unprepared and has permanently damaged the entire nation of Brazil for generations to come. Toyko seems more prepared for the games three summers from now, and 3-on-3 hoops is finally ready for its moment in the spotlight.
But what does a 3-on-3 tournament look like in the Olympics? And will NBA players have to choose between playing 3-on-3 of 5-on-5 ball. Not exactly. The 3-on-3 tournament will be very similar to the pickup games you might see at your local park. It’s a half-court game with no coaches, and Olympic officials didn’t seem to think players who miss Team USA will be trying out for Three USA.
FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann spoke to The Associated Press earlier this week and talked about the “urban cluster” of athletes that gravitate toward 3-on-3 basketball.
”Now there is an urban cluster that has been created,” FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press. ”The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball. It would certainly be a perfect fit.”
Still, don’t expect two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James to seek a third title in the three-a-side game which already has a global tournament circuit.
”That’s probably a nice dream to have,” Baumann said in a recent interview, adding: ”Our objective is to have similar and fantastic stars that come out of 3-on-3.”
Baumann singled out the famed Rucker Park street court in Harlem, New York, when expressing hope ”to see them in the Olympic Games two years down the road.”
There’s no word on how USA Basketball fits into this, but coach-less, fast-paced basketball on an international level sounds like an easy win for viewers and the Olympics. It also adds 96 more basketball players to the pool of Olympic athletes, which can’t be a bad thing. I’m sure Ice Cube approves, too. Maybe they’ll add a 4-point spot, just for kicks.