Ice Cube’s Big3 is back. The high-energy league featuring former NBA and international league stars like Joe Taylor and Lamar Odom are balling out on a new channel with new players, new coaches, and new sponsors.

One of those sponsors is cbdMD, a CBD company that sells a range of THC-free CBD products. 

The professional 3-on-3 basketball league was founded in 2017 by Hollywood actor and hip-hop musician, Ice Cube, alongside entertainment executive, Jeff Kwatinetz. Ice Cube has been a premier cultural watchdog, astutely commenting on, examining, and detailing the breadth of the American experience in uncompromising terms, with unflinching honesty and a sobering perspective. 

In June 2018, Big3 became the first professional sports league to allow their players to use CBD, so it’s not shocking that the league has chosen to partner with a CBD company. For the past year, the legality surrounding CBD-usage has continued to strike conversation, dating back to this past May’s historical FDA hearing.

We look at the use of CBD as compassion for our players,” said Big3 Founder, Ice Cube, said in an interview with Forbes.

These guys put their bodies on the line for us and the fans to entertain us with their talent. And as they’re hurting and in pain and there’s something out there that can help them, that doesn’t enhance their performance or intoxicates them…. To me, it’s simple compassion.”

This stance from Big3 has led to a shift in the attitude surrounding CBD with even the NBA saying they would begin looking into the subject. 

To answer why basketball players are turning to CBD, you have to understand what it is first. 

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant that works synergistically with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate the body’s homeostasis. CBD receptors bind together with your body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, which provides a long list of benefits that promote physical and mental wellbeing. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, can alleviate stress, and help you experience less pain. 

A report from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, found that some of the most common basketball injuries include ankle sprains, jammed fingers, knee injuries, and foot fractures. All ailments where inflammation and pain play a major role. Athletes who play basketball professionally or frequently have either experienced these injuries or have been suffering with them for years. 

Often times, players are prescribed aspirin or opioids to relieve them of discomfort and pain, but many players are looking for natural options with less side effects to help them get back on the court. 

Research around CBD is ramping up, so researchers are still learning what CBD can do. But it’s promising. 

So far, research has shown that CBD is a tough competitor for inflammation. Focusing on inflammation with ankle sprains, jammed fingers, and knee injuries like Patellar Tendonitis, also known as “Jumper’s Knee,” helps to promote a strong recovery. A Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study found that CBD is useful for healing fractured bones in rats. And once healed, they’re less likely to break again. 

CBD also helps players to cut down on the amount of pain they experience, and even get better sleep allowing them to come out and dominate on the court with very few side effects.

It also in no way enhances a player’s performance, which is one reason Big3 was comfortable with letting their players use it. 

In their announcement of their partnership with cbdMD as well as other articles about Big3 allowing CBD use, co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz mentioned that some Big3 players use CBD as they continue to play the sport they love. The league is hoping to see other professional leagues come around to CBD as well. 

You can catch the Big3 on CBS or CBS Sports.