Given the global shutdown of professional sports, both the leagues and betting companies are looking for other ways for fans to get their fix and most are turning to e-sports for entertainment. NASCAR and FOX proved iRacing events, where drivers compete, work and generate an audience and now it appears as though the National Basketball Association will return this weekend – well, kind of.
On Friday, 16 NBA players will compete in an NBA 2K20 tournament that’ll be broadcast on ESPN. It’ll be the closest thing to basketball we’ve seen since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States early last month and BetMGM even has a way fans can get in on the betting action. Fans are encouraged to check the rules and create a bracket on BetMGM NJ for a chance to win $20,000, with the company matching the amount in a donation to New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF). Meanwhile, the NBA player who comes out victorious in the tournament gets $100,000 which he can donate to the charity of his choice to help support COVID-19 relief efforts.
Some of the notable players participating in the tournament include COVID-19 victim Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns. Here’s the complete seeding:
- 1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (96)
- 2. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (90)
- 3. Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (87)
- 4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (87)
- 5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (86)
- 6. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (85)
- 7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (85)
- 8. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (85)
- 9. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (85)
- 10. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (85)
- 11. DeMarcus Cousins, Free Agent (81)
- 12. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (81)
- 13. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (79)
- 14. Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (78)
- 15. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (78)
- 16. Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat (78)
“We’re thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times,” said Jason Argent, 2K Senior Vice President, Sports Strategy and Licensing, in a recent statement. “Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament.”
It’ll be interesting to see what teams each player chooses – whether they pick their own franchise or one that has a specific player they might admire, like, perhaps, someone on the Los Angeles Lakers. As a current free agent who was released back in February, Cousins is certainly the player with the most time to prepare – then again, many of us have been hunkered in our houses for weeks. And the NBA has been suspended for about three weeks now, plenty of time to pick up a controller and master it.
The tournament, which begins Friday at 7:00 p.m. EST, will run for 10 days, though predictions must be entered by Sunday at 10:59 a.m. EST to qualify in the bracket challenge. The quarterfinals will be held April 7 and the semifinals and finals, which will be a best-of-three, will be on April 11.