The NBA has suspended all physical games in an effort to combat coronavirus, but nothing can stop the behemoth that is NBA 2K. With 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. ESPN will air an NBA 2K tournament featuring players from all 30 NBA teams that it hopes to launch on Friday, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Who might participate in this tournament is unknown at this point, but a reasonable place to start would be recent NBA 2K cover athletes. There are currently 11 active players that have been featured on the cover of NBA 2K at some point in their careers: Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Paul George, LeBron James, James Harden, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
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 on 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 players. 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 better.