Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2017

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Ice Cube, president of Raider Nation, embraces move

Image

Courtesy of Big3

Raider fan Ice Cube, shown at his 3-on-3 basketball league’s draft at Planet Hollywood on April 30, 2017, says, “It’s a perfect team and (Las Vegas is) a perfect market and a perfect image for football.”

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Rapper Ice Cube smiles before an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014.

As synonymous with the Raiders as the team’s pirate logo, Ice Cube is the self-proclaimed president of Raider Nation.

From his days with rap group N.W.A. making the team popular with the street culture, to rocking their gear in various movies and even producing an ESPN documentary on the Raiders, “Straight Outta L.A.,” no one is a bigger fan of the silver and black than Ice Cube.

At the draft for his 3-on-3 basketball league, the Big3, on Sunday at the Planet Hollywood, Ice Cube spoke with the Sun about how the Raiders fit in Las Vegas and why he chose the city for not only the draft for his league but the championship this summer at T-Mobile Arena.

What was your reaction to the Raiders being approved to relocate?

I was happy for Vegas, sad for Oakland. If the Raiders can’t come to L.A., the only town that I would would expect them to be in is Las Vegas. When they came to Los Angeles in the early ’80s, it was exciting for the city. The city galvanized around the team, and that’s going to happen here in Las Vegas. I’ll be here, you know, being the president of the Raider Nation. I gotta go where my team go.

I’ll be here cheering them on. The whole town is excited, and nothing brings a city together like a sports franchise.

The Raiders fanbase seems like it will go anywhere the team goes. Why is that?

The spirit of how the team was put together, the spirit of Al Davis, to put a team together that was all about winning — that’s what people are. We’re bottom-line people. That really resonates with fans, then you add a pirate in the mix and you got everybody engaged. It's a perfect team and a perfect market and a perfect image for football.

How does Las Vegas fit in the Raiders culture?

They’re right up the Raiders Nation alley right here (in Las Vegas). If the team could go anywhere, this is the place. It just feels like the Raiders. Las Vegas is a town that is all about winning, and the Raiders are all about winning. It ain't really about how you get there, it’s about becoming a champion.

Is relocation to Las Vegas easier because the Southern California fanbase is closer?

Without a doubt. Raider Nation is big. You have so many people going from L.A. up to Oakland, so you’ll have that same amount of people coming out here to Vegas.

Why did you choose Las Vegas not only for the combine and Big3 draft, but for the finals as well?

It’s an entertainment mecca. We felt like it would be great for the guys to come to a place where they can enjoy themselves as well as get ready to play some good basketball and hopefully get drafted. We felt like this was a great spot. We’re having the championship here at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 26, so it’s like let’s start here and then return to the scene of the crime for the championship.

Players said that having you involved in the league made it that much more legit. What does that say about you and your place in basketball culture?

I guess I’ve done things right in my career. I take this (Big3) very serious. I’ve actually neglected some of my movies and music to make sure this is right, and I believe they trust my brand and they know I wouldn't come to them if I wasn’t willing to make it right.

Is one of those movies you’ve been neglecting the next installment of the "Friday" series?

Nah, that’s in the works. It’s just harder than what people think to put together.

Will the NBA join the mix in Las Vegas?

That’s really up to the NBA. I’m sure that Vegas would love it. This has become a big sports town right now.

So your league is a 3-on-3 league. Who’s on your dream 3-man squad?

Give me Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

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