As the NBA season has been on pause for nearly a month due to COVID-19, the league has floated several ideas that would serve as an alternative form of the traditional regular season/post-season format. Resuming regular season games with no fans, ending the regular season and starting the playoffs with fans in attendance (when deemed safe, July/August being the best-case scenario) and canceling the season all together have all been considered as real possibilities.
Among these options, one scenario seemed to show promise. This was to start the playoffs immediately and hold all games in one city, such as Las Vegas. While this seemed to make sense at the time and held some level of optimism, the reality of it is bleak. The amount of personnel (medical, media, venue) that it takes to make any event possible, even without fans, is larger than one would think. Being that crowds of more than ten people are strongly discouraged by the CDC, this idea did not gain much traction.
While the international crisis continues to escalate, it seems more likely that the season could be canceled in its entirety. As fans are starved from any type of sporting event at the moment, the NBA and ESPN continue to brainstorm on how to keep fans engaged during such a novel situation.
As this is the case, ESPN basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski gave fans a glimmer of hope that they will see the stars in action again soon. He tweeted, “The NBA and ESPN are working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition involving several high-profile players, sources say. Players would shoot in isolation – presumably in home gyms – and match shots against competitors. Details are still being finalized.”
An absolute classic game. For those who are unfamiliar with how it works, players take turns shooting from different spots on the court. If someone makes a shot, the rest of the players are forced to replicate the same shot. If a player misses, they are given the letter “H” to start, the next missed shot earns them the letter “O” and so on, eventually losing the game when missing five shots and earning all letters in the word “horse”.
While comical to some, being able to see high profile players in action could provide some sense of relief to the deprived sports fanatic. Given the current climate of the situation, many would argue that any form of live sports would suffice. The timetable of the event is to be determined, as is the list of contestants. Being that the competition would take place at remote locations, such as players homes, an event like this could be difficult to plan. That being said, it would most certainly boost the morale of basketball fans around the world.
Who could we see in this contest? The answer is unknown, but we all know how epic of a showdown it would be amongst best for the NBA and ESPN. Here is a potential list of matchups between players who would provide premium entertainment value.
Lebron James vs Paul George Steph Curry vs Damian Lillard Devin Booker vs James Harden Jimmy Butler vs Kyrie Irving