DALLAS — Often called the ultimate urban team sport, 3x3 basketball has been around for decades.
But in the last few years, 3x3 has been launched into the forefront of the professional sports stage as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has grown and Ice Cube’s BIG3 has taken center court across national television and social media platforms.
And at its height, the sport got an Olympic spotlight in the summer of 2020, after the International Olympic Committee made the announcement in June 2017 that it would be added to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Now, a new partnership hopes to help expand the 3x3 women’s basketball league, creating more opportunities in professional sports.
Force 10 Sports Management is partnering with WNBA teams, including the Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings and Indiana Fever to help further advance the sport and grow 3x3 regionally and nationally for women.
Force 10 is based in Seattle, Wash. and provides services to some of the most prominent professional sports teams and organizations in the United States, including four-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm, OL Reign, USA Basketball and Pac-12. The company pioneered the 3x3 basketball industry with the creation of the first professional women’s team.
In 2021, Force 10 had a successful year when it first partnered with the Chicago Sky to expand 3x3: 26 players were sponsored and Force 10 teams took the podium in all five Red Bull stops they competed in.
“This is an important moment for women’s 3x3 basketball as we see the nation embrace women's sport on a whole new level," Alisha Valavanis, CEO of Force 10 Sports Management and the Seattle Storm said in a news release.
Force 10 says the new collaboration is the first ever in the U.S. and will benefit at least 24 women in 2022 with the opportunity to compete for prize money and earn FIBA points. Click here to learn about how FIBA points work.
Why 3x3 basketball?
Alanna McDonald is the director of Basketball Operations with Force 10 Sports Management. She said her company believed that 3x3 basketball could be an amazing opportunity for female athletes after seeing the growth of the FIBA men’s teams playing in international tournaments – which launched in 2012.
“We basically identified it as a sort of new frontier. Like a new space to build into, where we could create new opportunities for professional women to play and add another earning opportunity for them,” said McDonald.
In the WNBA, there’s only 144 roster spots available.
"But there’s so much talent coming out of Division I basketball in the U.S. And we want to create opportunities for those deserving players who are right on the cusp of the WNBA," McDonald said. "We want to highlight their talent here in the American market, so that their fans can continue to follow them when they come out of their college program."
McDonald says to think about it this way: look at how beach volleyball has impacted the world of traditional indoor volleyball and how it transformed the sport with a fresh audience across the world.
She has the same hopes for 3x3 basketball.
Connecticut Sun’s Team President and recently named head coach of the USA Basketball’s 2022 FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series Jennifer Rizzotti is playing a pivotal role in the growing partnership.
“My first experience with 3x3 was in Tokyo watching our Women’s National team win Gold. I knew then that it was a sport people could easily fall in love with,” Rizzotti said in a press release.
The U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball Team, with WNBA standouts Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum, Allisha Gray and Jackie Young – earned the gold medal after defeating the Russian Olympic Committee. Gray currently plays for the Dallas Wings.
“The Dallas Wings are proud to partner with Force 10 Sports in support of women’s 3x3 basketball," Dallas Wings President & CEO Greg Bibb said. “As an organization we strive to provide exciting and meaningful opportunities for women in sports and to provide these athletes with the platform they deserve.”
“There are so many talented players, so supporting another professional opportunity for women in our country not only feels right but it’s necessary to grow our game," Rizzotti said. "I’m impressed with what Force 10 has been able to support and we are honored to partner with them to continue to build out the 3x3 space for the future.”