Basketball junkies have their eyes set on the summer of 2020. That’s the next time we’ll get to see the highest level of international hoops, as teams from all over the world will descend on Tokyo for the Summer Olympics. Still, basketball at the Olympics has been a bit boring in recent years — on both the men’s and women’s sides, the United States tends to dominate the proceedings.
That may be the case again in 2020. What remains to be seen, though, is whether the United States will be able to dominate in the newest Olympic basketball endeavor: 3×3. Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Chris Mullin sees, at the very least, a way for the playing field to be leveled, with 3×3 serving as a way to get “back to the purest, most fundamental form of basketball.”
“Skill level becomes a little more emphasized than just the size, strength, speed,” Mullin said. “There’s a way to combat that which happens a little bit in five-on-five. But in 3×3, taking those other two players out, eliminates weak side defenders. And it also emphasizes if you’re left open, you can’t shoot, you are going to be exposed. So it’s probably more of a well-rounded basketball player from a skill standpoint as opposed to just give me the tallest, longest guy that can jump the highest.”
Mullin is prominently involved in 3×3. The former St. John’s coach serves as an ambassador for the sport, and is part of Thursday’s announcement between USA Basketball and Red Bull. The two sides revealed a partnership, one that looks to “build an elite pathway for men’s and women’s players who have a goal of competing at the highest levels of 3×3 basketball.”