Ice Cube is suing a group of Persian Gulf investors for $1.2 billion, claiming they tried to seize control of his fledgling Big3 basketball league even as they broke promises to fund it.
According to the Washington Post, The suit by the legendary rapper and his talent-agent partner Jeff Kwatinetz alleges that the investors, connected to the royal family of Qatar, ponied up only a third of their $20.5 million commitment to Big3.
“It’s like, god—- , man, we’re the newest, smallest thing with one season under our belt. Go after the big boys,” Cube said in a telephone interview.
“That’s what this is more about,” he continued. “It’s like we’re going to tell the world what you tried to do. We ain’t no punks. They thought we was just this rapper and this rock guy: ‘We could do ’em.’ Get your [butt] out of here.”
The lawsuit alleges the months-long saga cost the league millions of dollars, its first-year commissioner, whom the league fired in part because of his relationship with the investment group, and plenty of headaches and stress that cast a cloud over the league’s finances.
The 33-page complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges a duplicitous scheme in which the Qatari group paid only a portion of its agreed-upon investment and withheld the rest of the money to create leverage, all with the goal of fracturing the league leadership and eventually muscling its way into a controlling interest.
The group is called Sport Trinity, and the other three investors named in the lawsuit are Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former Qatar diplomat to the United States; Faisal Al-Hamadi, an executive with the Qatar Investment Authority; and Ayman Sabi, a U.S. citizen who the suit alleges misled the Big3 into thinking he was also a Qatari high-roller.
A spokesman for Sport Trinity called the lawsuit a “blatantly false and malicious fabrication” and said the investors “have done nothing other than act in the best interest of the enterprise.” The spokesman did not address the specifics of the complaint but said Kwatinetz blocked Sport Trinity’s efforts to grow the league.
The $1.2 billion in damages that Cube and Kwatinetz seek is based on the Big3’s projected revenue and includes losses and damages they say have been accrued by each player in the league: $20 million per player. The league boasts that its players receive a share of the overall revenue, so while the players aren’t listed as plaintiffs, the league says they were victims.
“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.
“We just trying to do basketball, man,” Cube said. “We’re not trying to be caught up in no international bull—-.”