One of the positives of the whole world being shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is that sports leagues are having to get creative to keep some form of their product going. Whether it be March Madness simulation games, WrestleMania in empty arenas, UFC fights on a secret island, or NBA players playing video games against each other, it’s an interesting time to be a sports fan. Now the NBA has added another unique event to our barren entertainment schedule – the first ever NBA HORSE Challenge.
So what exactly does that even mean? Here’s the info via the horse’s mouth (pun intended) – the NBA:
ESPN, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) today announced that 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, 2020 NBA All-Star Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and newly elected Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings headline the list of eight NBA and WNBA players and legends who will participate in the new NBA HORSE Challenge Presented by State Farm, exclusively on ESPN and streamed via the ESPN App.
Beginning Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. ET, Paul, Young, Catchings, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. and NBA Finals MVPs Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce will match shots against one another in a single-elimination HORSE competition from their respective, isolated home courts. ESPN NBA commentator Mark Jones will serve as the official host.
State Farm will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus response efforts. This donation builds on the more than $74 million that has been contributed by the NBA Family to date to support coronavirus relief efforts through its NBA Together campaign.
NBA HORSE Challenge Presented by State Farm participants will be divided into two groups of four, with the winners of the first two games in each group meeting in the semifinals. The winner from each group will move on to the championship round. ESPN will present the four quarterfinal games on Sunday. The semifinals and the championship game will air on Thursday, April 16, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
A coin toss at the start of each game will determine who shoots first, with the more senior player calling heads or tails. Players must describe each shot attempt, specifying the type of score they intend to make before taking a shot, such as a bank shot or swish. Dunking is prohibited. The first player in each game to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated.
Trae Young seems to be on board with the “no dunking” rule.
As for the groupings and schedule, it is as follows:
|Group 1||Group 2|
|Chauncey Billups||Zach LaVine|
|Tamika Catchings||Chris Paul|
|Mike Conley Jr.||Paul Pierce|
|Trae Young||Allie Quigley|
|Sun, Apr. 12||7-9 p.m.||Quarterfinals Group 1: Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups|
|Quarterfinals Group 1: Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley Jr.|
|Quarterfinals Group 2: Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce|
|Quarterfinals Group 2: Chris Paul vs. Allie Quigley|
|9-11 p.m.||Quarterfinals Encore Presentations|
|Thu, Apr. 16||7-9 p.m.||Quarterfinals Encore Presentations|
|9-11 p.m.||Group 1: Semifinals|
|Group 2: Semifinals|
|HORSE Championship Game|
All games will be broadcast on ESPN, as they’re desperate for content as well.
Now, for the important part – the gambling odds, you #degens.
HORSE Challenge Winner
Trae Young +200
Chris Paul +250
Mike Conley Jr. +300
Paul Pierce +400
Zach Lavine +600
Chauncey Billups +600
Allie Quigley +800
Tamika Catchings +1000
Trae Young -200
Chauncey Billups +150
Tamika Catchings +300
Mike Conley Jr. -500
Zach Lavine -110
Paul Pierce -130
Chris Paul -300
Allie Quigley +200