The NBA has suspended all physical games in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but nothing can stop the behemoth that is NBA 2K. With sports fans confined to their homes and video games taking on an important place as a distraction during this pandemic, the NBA has decided to take advantage of the platform to offer fans some semblance of live basketball. Beginning Friday, ESPN will air an NBA 2K tournament featuring 16 players over a 10-day period, the National Basketball Players Association announced on Tuesday.
Two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant headlines the list of names who will be competing, with Trae Young and Hassan Whiteside rounding out the top three seeds. Seeding of the tournament is based on the player's 2K ranking, as well as the number of years they've been in the league.
The full list of matchups in order of seeding are:
- (1) Kevin Durant vs. (16) Derrick Jones Jr.
- (2) Trae Young vs. (15) Harrison Barnes
- (3) Hassan Whiteside vs. (14) Patrick Beverley
- (4) Donovan Mitchell vs. (13) Rui Hachimura
- (5) Devin Booker vs. (12) Michael Porter Jr.
- (6) Andre Drummond vs. (11) DeMarcus Cousins
- (7) Zach LaVine vs. (10) DeAndre Ayton
- (8) Montrezl Harrell vs. (9) Domantas Sabonis
While fans would undoubtedly prefer to see live basketball, this format has some distinct advantages. Theoretically, players could be mic'd up and trash-talk each other live on camera, something fans get to see very little of during actual television broadcasts of games. It also sends a strong message of social distancing, as basketball courts around the country have been caught on film filled with people. If NBA players are staying home and have found their own alternative to basketball, perhaps others will follow.
Even if the stakes of such a tournament are mere bragging rights, the idea of live competition featuring professional athletes will be a welcome change of pace in light of recent events. Fans are starved for something resembling professional sports after missing them for several weeks, and if nothing else, this tournament will feature some of their favorite athletes competing against one another at the highest level possible at the moment. From a social distancing perspective, it's hard to ask for much more during this difficult time.