Ice Cube Files $1.2B Lawsuit Against Qatari Investors In His Big3 Basketball League

Written by Ann Brown

There is a major courtroom drama on the horizon and this one is starring hip-hop mogul Ice Cube.

Ice Cube and his talent-agent partner Jeff Kwatinetz are suing three Persian Gulf investors for $1.2 billion, claiming they tried to take over control of Cube’s up-and-coming Big3 basketball league and that they broke promises to fund it.

The investors, who have connections to the royal family of Qatar, only came up with a third of the $20.5 million they promised to the Big3 project, according to the suit. The plaintiffs accuse the investor group of defamation, libel, as well as “interference with contractual relationships.”

Ice Cube’s Big3 is an eight-team 3-on-3 professional basketball league. The league had initial games in June 2017 and debuted on Fox Sports, attracting nearly 400,000 viewers. Fox Sports renewed and expanded its TV contract with the league two months later.

Big3’s 2018 player combine and draft airs in May on FS1, and its 10-week sophomore season tips off June 22, with all games airing live Friday nights on Fox or FS1,” the Wrap reported.

Investors in the Big3 include Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat and head of Qatar Investments; Faisal Al-Hamadi, managing partner of Ory Capital; and Ayman Sabi, a Libyan-born American citizen who is said to be a board member of the Qatar Investment Authority. They formed Sport Trinity, whose benefactor is Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Sau Al Thani, CEO of the Qatari Investment Authority, the lawsuit claims.

“These members and associates of the royal family made excuse after excuse for not paying, all of which is documented in text messages and emails,” according to the suit filed on April 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court. “The blame for their failure to fund the millions they owed the BIG3 ran the gamut from their ‘sinuses,’ ‘hiking,’ it being a ‘long day bro,’ and to bad press regarding Qatar associations with alleged funding of terrorism,” the suit alleged.

The Qatar Investment Authority contacted Moguldom with the following statement: “Neither the Qatar Investment Authority nor its CEO are investors in, nor have they had any involvement with, Big3.”

Instead of coming up with the promised financial commitment, the lawsuit claims the trio of investors tried to take over the league by inserting themselves into it via gifts. They gave select Big3 employees lavish gifts, and hosted parties on yachts and in their Los Angeles mansions.

“Even as the investors maintained an opulent lifestyle–Al-Rumaihi lost $700,000 in a single night of gambling in Las Vegas after the Big 3 finals last summer–they refused to pay the millions they owed to the league,” Deadline reported.

How did the plaintiffs arrive at the $1.2 billion figure they are seeking in the suit?

They claim “reputational harm and damages that work out to about $20 million per Big3 player–each of whom receives a share of the league’s overall revenue,” according to the New York Post.

Things have gotten heated and ugly.

“The complaint alleges that one of the investors spread a false and harmful rumor about Kwatinetz, referring to the league’s African-American players as ‘Rich Nigg*s,’ racist language he said he ‘never had and never would’ use,” Deadline reported.

Ice Cube. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for BIG3

Kwatinetz made continuous demands for the investors to pay the balance of the $11.5 million, and he says in the suit that he was confronted after a memorial service in February for Big3 player Rasual Butler. Al-Rumaihi came to the location of the service and waited in his Bentley for Kwatinetz, according to court documents. Then and there, Al-Rumaihi promised the money obligation “would be worked out.” But when Kwatinetz requested the balance due–about $4 million–by a certain deadline, Al-Rumaihi instead said he wanted a 25 percent stake in the league and for Ayman to be named chief operating officer.

Kwatinetz even claims he was threatened.

“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,’” the suit alleges. “‘You should think of your safety and the safety of your family.’”

Famed Los Angeles lawyer Mark Geragos, who has represented Michael Jackson, actress Winona Ryder, and other celebrity lawsuits, is heading up the case for Big3 and its co-founders.

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About Ann Brown
Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.

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