Ice Cube Rumors
Mason, who last month accused Kwatinetz of calling the league’s players “rich n—-rs,” adds in the suit that Kwatinetz’s insensitivity “is evidenced by his repeated discussions with company employees of his relationship with Steve Bannon and his defense of Bannon’s character.”
Mason, an 11-year NBA veteran who says he recruited big-name players to Big3, including Allen Iverson and Charles Oakley, blames his ouster on “a phony ‘independent investigation’ ” into alleged conflicts of interest with league investors — “a sham effort to make Mason a scapegoat for issues at the company caused by Kwatinetz,” according to the suit filed in Delaware Chancery Court.
But league owners allege the group wanted much more. A lawsuit filed Thursday morning alleges the foreign investors withheld millions of dollars in an attempt to push out the Big3 founders, who include entertainer Ice Cube, and take over the league. Cube and co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, a veteran executive in the entertainment industry, are seeking $1.2 billion in damages and allege they were swindled by the foreign investors, including Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, who is the CEO of Qatar Investment Authority, the state-owned entity that specializes in foreign investments.
Included in the filing are images of a series of increasingly tense text exchanges between Al-Rumaihi and Kwatinetz. The two finally connected in person two days later, Feb. 3, at the memorial service of Rasual Butler, the former NBA and Big3 player who died in a car crash four days earlier. Al-Rumaihi didn’t attend the service but instead waited in his Bentley until it was over, the complaint states, before approaching Kwatinetz. According to the filing, Al-Rumaihi said he wouldn’t be wiring the remaining money to the Big3 and said in a separate message that he needed 25 percent interest in the league “and that Mr. Kwatinetz should show him “respect as a royal family member.” “Mr. Kwatinetz informed him that respect came with paying monies owed now over six months and refraining from constant lies,” the complaint states. “Al-Rumaihi became incensed and loudly screamed at Mr. Kwatinetz and threatened his life and his family noting, ‘You don’t know who I know in LA and what they’re capable of. You should think of your safety and the safety of you and your family.’ ”
“The players wholeheartedly support the league,” said Clyde Drexler, the Hall of Famer who served as a Big3 coach last season and replaced Mason as the league’s commissioner last month. “Everyone is in this together. It’s revenue sharing, so if you mess with the league, you’re messing with all the players.” Cube and Kwatinetz say the dispute hasn’t slowed the Big3’s momentum. The league, which is scheduled to open its second season June 22 in Houston, announced an apparel deal with Adidas this week, improved its television deals and expects the brand of basketball to be even better in Year 2.