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The NBA may be suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but live basketball action of a different kind might air on ESPN.
The network’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided the details.
“The NBA and ESPN are working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition involving several high-profile players, sources say,” he wrote.
“Players would shoot in isolation—presumably in home gyms—and match shots against competitors. Details are still being finalized.”
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post listed Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul, Houston Rockets floor general Russell Westbrook and Utah Jazz shooting Donovan Mitchell as names that “could be involved.”
He also mentioned New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson as a possibility, but no players have been confirmed at this time.
Alternative NBA programming may be the norm for quite some time as COVID-19’s spread continues in the United States.
Of note, ESPN has been airing an NBA2K tournament between 16 players, a competition that began Friday.
The NBA’s return does not appear imminent.
At least 241,703 people in the U.S. have confirmed cases, per the latest World Health Organization figures from Saturday afternoon, and at least 5,854 people have died in the country.
With that in mind, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported there is a “significant amount of pessimism” regarding whether the 2019-20 season can be resumed in any capacity.
Therefore, a H-O-R-S-E competition between players is feasible as the league stays on hiatus. At the very least, it may bring some people out of temporary retirement, with former Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce responding to the original Woj tweet with, “I’m in.”
The NBA has held official H-O-R-S-E events three times, during All-Star Weekends in 1978, 2009 and 2010. The Phoenix Suns’ Paul Westphal won the first, while Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (then of the Oklahoma City Thunder) took the last two.