This Sunday was supposed to be a fairly big one in the world of sports. It should have been the final round of The Masters amid the closing stretch of the NBA regular season, but with the COVID-19 outbreak, things changed dramatically.
Instead of live Masters final round coverage, CBS aired last year’s final round that saw Tiger Woods come back to claim yet another green jacket, and instead of seeing teams jockeying for playoff position, the NBA launched its remote HORSE tournament on ESPN in the evening. The tournament features current and former NBA stars, as well as WNBA stars who will take part in the competition from the comfort of their homes.
The betting favorite at the offshore sportsbooks that placed odds on the competition is Trae Young, the second-year All-Star known for hitting deep threes and taking some wild shots in games. Ahead of his debut game against Chauncey Billups, the league posted some HORSE hype videos to YouTube, showing off why the competitors were in the competition by cutting up some of their best shots from their careers. Young’s unsurprisingly, focuses heavily on the deep pull-up threes he’s become known for.
They later added one for Zach LaVine, who was listed initially as a slight underdog against Paul Pierce in his opening round matchup, with what are basically some deep buzzer-beaters and acrobatic layups in traffic.
What’s funny is that none of these would be all that impressive when replicated in the driveway or empty gym, because what makes these look cool is the stakes and that he’s doing them against and over defenders. LaVine, of course, is best known for his dunks and is the reason the no dunks rule exists in this competition, but he surely wants to prove he’s a shot-maker too. HORSE is about creativity and showmanship and it’ll be interesting to see how that translates via remote games, but the problem with trying to compile a HORSE highlight tape from game film is none of the shots really ever come close.
It’ll be really interesting to see how they measure shots if they’re not all able to get into actual gyms and are in driveways. I want to see folks pacing off shots and debating whether the other person shot from the appropriate spot. Hopefully it’s fun to watch, because we all could use some real, live basketball from elite pros.