Because of the postponement of the 2019-20 NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA decided to host a nationally televised H-O-R-S-E shooting competition featuring star athletes while fans wait at home for sports to return.
The competition featured a number of both current and former NBA and WNBA stars. The first bracket featured Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul facing Chicago Sky WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine facing former NBA star Paul Pierce. The second bracket featured former NBA star Chauncey Billups facing rising Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young as well as WNBA Hall of Fame inductee Tamika Catchings facing Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr.
The athletes participated in the contest from their home courts and the competition featured standard H-O-R-S-E rules. The players took turns trying to match shots made by their opponent — excluding dunks. If a player failed to make the shot that their opponent made before them, they earned a letter. Once a player’s letters spelled “H-O-R-S-E,” they were eliminated.
In the quarterfinals, Chauncey Billups (H-O-R) defeated Trae Young, and Mike Conley (H) defeated Tamika Catchings, setting up a semi-final’s matchup between Billups and Conley. Zach LaVine defeated Paul Pierce, while Allie Quigley (H-O-R) defeated Chris Paul to advance to a semi-final’s matchup against LaVine.
In the semi-finals, Conley (H-O) defeated Billups, and LaVine (H-O-R) bested Quigley, leading to a final’s matchup between Conley and LaVine.
In the final round, Mike Conley Jr. (H-O) defeated Zach LaVine to take home the first NBA H-O-R-S-E Challenge championship. As a reward for his victory, Conley was given the opportunity to donate $200,000 to the COVID-19 charity of his choice.
In a time when fans are away from sports, the NBA’s H-O-R-S-E challenge gave them something competitive to watch. While they would much rather watch NBA players face one another in a true basketball game, sports fans will take anything they can get their hands on right now.