Mason Denies Being Fired As Big3 Commissioner, Corruption Reports
Former Big3 Commissioner Roger Mason Jr. "denied he was fired ... because of alleged corruption and said the working 'environment has been hostile and racist,'" according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. Multiple outlets yesterday reported that Mason was "dismissed because of his ties to two Qatari investors who allegedly owe the 3-on-3 league millions of dollars." Mason said, "I was terminated by Big3 in retaliation for legal claims which I made last week in a letter sent by my attorneys to Big3 Basketball alleging that the League had breached my employment agreement." He added, "The violations of my agreement centered around Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who has been engaged in a malicious, defamatory campaign of disparaging me in an attempt to prevent me from the performance of contractual duties and responsibilities. He has made countless unfounded attacks on my integrity, character, and leadership. The work environment at Big3 has been hostile and racist resulting in the departure of valuable League personnel." Mason also "contends Kwatinetz, who is white, used a racial slur when he referred to black athletes." Big3 co-Founder Ice Cube has been "named the commissioner for the league" (USA TODAY, 3/13). In N.Y., Hannah Withiam notes Mason's name "surfaced earlier" yesterday in a letter from Big3 management sent around the league "explaining Mason's firing as the consequence of an investigation into his questionable ties to Qatari investors Ayman Sabi and Ahmed Al-Rumaihi." Mason was also "believed to have received benefits from the investors, even while they were defaulting on their financial commitments to the league" (N.Y. POST, 3/13).
ON THE ITINERARY: In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman notes the shakeup "came at a particularly awkward time" for the Big3, as the league had "announced the schedule for its second season just before" reports of Mason's dismissal surfaced. Mason leaving is "not expected to delay the season, which is set to begin June 22 in Houston, and the league’s letter said two major sponsorship deals would be announced in the next seven days." The league's '18 schedule calls for an "eight-week regular season." A playoff round is "scheduled for Aug. 17 in Dallas with the championship game to be held in Aug. 24 at Barclays Center" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/13). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman notes Big3 has "booked a July 20 date at AmericanAirlines Arena, the first time" the league "will appear in South Florida." The 10-week season "will make stops at other NBA venues in Houston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Brooklyn, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta and Oakland." All stops will "feature four back-to-back games and will take place on Friday evenings" from June 22-Aug. 24. The games will be "broadcast live on either" Fox or FS1 (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 3/13).