The NBA season has been suspended, but ESPN and the league have figured out a different way to present live basketball to fans.
The Disney-owned sports-media giant sad it would present a tournament built out of a game of Horse and present it on its flagship cable network as well as its streaming mobile app starting on April 12.
Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Tamika Catchings will take part, along with Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, Mike Conley Jr. of the Utah Jazz, and Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce. They will match shots against one another in a single-elimination competition from their own isolated home courts. Mark Jones, an ESPN NBA commentator, will serve as host, and insurer State Farm will be the presenting sponsor of the event.
ESPN launches the event as it scrambles to fill its schedule, which typically contains hours and hours of live basketball and baseball games, along with ancillary programming devoted to analysis of live matches. For the past several weeks, the sports network has relied on a brew of repeats game broadcasts, sports movies and documentary programs, along with new broadcasts of signature news and talk shows like “SportsCenter,” “Get Up” and “First Take.”
The network said participants will be divided into two groups of four, with the winners of the first two games in each group moving on to the semifinals. The winner from each group advances to the championship round. ESPN will present four quaterfinal games on Sunday, with semifinals and a championship game slated to air Thursday, April 16.
Players will have to describe each shot attempt, specifying the type of shot they intend to make. The game does not allow for dunking. The first player to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated.