In the Staples Center on April 13th, 2016, it was the final home game for the Lakers regular season and more importantly, Kobe’s final home game of his illustrious 20-year career. Lakers fans gathered around their TVs and phones, and plenty scalped the most expensive ticket of the season to watch one of the greatest ever play one final time. One of those fans was Ice Cube.
A lifelong Lakers fan, Cube was one of the many celebrities who gave some thanks to what Kobe had accomplished.
During a timeout, the jumbotron had a clip of the world renowned hip-hop artist saying “Kobe, baby, give us five more years. Come on, you can do it.”
Bryant scored 60 points and looked like he could indeed play another five years. Of course, at the time, it was all about Kobe for Cube. But, after seeing him score 60 points and then retiring? That made an idea that Cube already had resurface. Ice Cube then called Jeff Kwatinetz, his business partner and long-time friend, to discuss the idea they’d talked about on numerous occasions before: professional 3-on-3 basketball.
“I’ve learned over the years that when Cube has an idea, it’s probably a good idea.” Kwatinetz says. “He has an incredible understanding of the culture and what people want to see. So when he came to me upset about Kobe retiring after scoring 60, that’s when the idea really came together.”
Cube and Kwatinetz have a relationship that spans far beyond just partners. The two have been long-time friends since the days of N.W.A. and created a natural business friendship in which both respect each other mutually. Just like family, they aren’t afraid to challenge each other and be honest, which makes the partnership that much better.
“I love Jeff because he’s a doer, he’s not a talker, he’s just a straight shooter,” Ice Cube says. “My nickname for him is JK47 because he’s going to come right at you. He’s just a very smart guy who understands business and knows a lot about entertainment and what moves people.”