A college basketball commentator, a health care entrepreneur, and a podcast producer are officially the men’s 3×3 basketball champions of the world. Led by former Purdue star Robbie Hummel, Team USA won the 3×3 World Cup in Amsterdam last Sunday, taking down Latvia 18-14, putting them in the driver’s seat to win a gold medal in the inaugural 3×3 tournament at next year’s Olympics.

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Can USA 3×3 Basketball Team Win Gold Medal at Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

Hummel was drafted 58th overall by the Timberwolves in 2012 and finished 12th on the team in total minutes in 2014 and 11th in 2015. I was pretty sure he’d retired from professional basketball since I’d seen him announcing college games on the Big Ten Network. Sure enough, he had retired. But he’d been recruited to join a 3×3 team featuring Damon Huffman and Kareem Maddox.

I was bewildered when I Googled “Kareem Maddox” and found a podcast producer. Surely, there were two people named Kareem Maddox—one the former Princeton player who helped nearly upset Kentucky in the 2011 NCAA tournament and was now playing in the 3×3 world championships and another who produced a podcast.

Producer Kareem Maddox competed in the FIBA 3×3 Basketball World Cup with Team USA last week – and they won!!! We’ve got some multitalented people over here.

The Ringer employs several podcast producers, and I used to be proud to call all of them my colleagues. Several of our podcast producers take part in the site’s weekly pickup games, and I have been scored on easily by literally all of them, but none of them has ever won a world championship. The closest person we have on-staff is Mark Titus, who has demonstrated neither the desire nor ability to compete for Olympic gold in any sport. Is the Ringer really going to go out like this? I can barely muster the energy to go to the office in the morning knowing our podcast team would get simmered and sautéed on the court by Gimlet Media.

Back to the very real world of 3×3 Basketball world championships. Maddox and Huffman played for a team that had won back-to-back national championships but hadn’t won gold internationally until this year. That’s when they were joined by Hummel and Canyon Barry, the son of Hall of Famer Rick, who played for Florida and the College of Charleston and is now with the Iowa Wolves in the G League. The result was complete domination. Team USA was the only undefeated team in the whole World Cup, outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.1 points per game—pretty impressive in games that end as soon as a team scores 21 or more points. in tournament history, their point differential of 64 was the best.

Perhaps the part-time nature of the champions seems fitting for 3×3 Basketball, a game primarily played when you don’t have enough people for a full game, and there’s a guy shouting on the other end of the court and you don’t want to ask him to move. But over the past few years, FIBA—think FIFA, but with a B for “basketball” instead—has been set on creating a formalized version of 3×3 for international tournaments. It’s the same thing that once happened with beach volleyball. Once played exclusively by regular people in casual pickup games, the international governing body of volleyball realized that the outdoor two-on-two version could be marketed as a fresh, sexy version of their sport and began sanctioning international events. They eventually got the sport into the Olympics.

3×3—think “3×3” but with an X for “extreme” instead—is FIBA’s pet project. Without a signature event to generate cash—you’re probably not going to watch the FIBA World Cup in September—FIBA is all in on 3×3, holding events across the globe as part of its 3×3 World Tour. The branding seems like a 20-years-too-late attempt to cash in on the And1 Mixtape Tour. V3irtually every FIBA press release about the game makes sure to call it “urban,” and the games feature an announcer spouting colorful nicknames. But it’s tough to seem street when Canyon Barry is shooting underhand free throws.

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