The NBA is going to televise a H O R S E competition this Sunday at 7 p.m.
There will be four matchups, with the winners moving on to the semifinals on April 16.
The quarterfinals on Sunday will feature:
Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups
Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley
Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce
Chris Paul vs. WNBA player Allie Quigley
How it’ll work: Each player will be filmed in real-time on an isolated court, which the opponent will be able to see from their own respective isolated court. Regular H O R S E rules will proceed from there. Regardless of how it plays out, tons of people will watch, because, at this point, tons of people would watch a game of Go Fish between Chris Paul and Mike Conley.
The NBA has always been interested in the idea of H O R S E, though, even if the results have often been anticlimactic.
Most recently, in 2009 and 2010:
The league worked the competition into All-Star Weekend for two years and, basically, it sucked.
In the 2010 final -- the one that drove the stake into the idea -- Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo couldn’t make a shot and started to run out of time, so the producers made the snap decision to turn it instead into a 3-point matching competition, at which junction the two started making 3s back-and-forth, thus prolonging the event even more.
Charles Barkley was the “host,” and he tried to spice it up by yelling Chuck things, but the entire idea felt stale.
It … didn’t return for the 2011 All-Star Weekend.
It was first tried throughout the 1977-78 season:
Dreamed up by the NBA and CBS, then the league’s skeptical partner, it featured a 32-player bracket.
The preliminary rounds were shot early in 1977 and televised over the course of the year.
There was some real star power: Pete Maravich, George Gervin, David Thompson, Rick Barry, Maurice Lucas, and so on.
The finals were supposed to be Maravich vs. Paul Westphal, but Maravich had an injury and Rick Barry stepped in instead, eventually losing to Westphal.
YouTube clips: Maravich vs. Gervin in round three; Maravich vs. Bob McAdoo in round two; Doug Collins vs. Bingo Smith in round one.
The bottom line: We’ve all made fun of H O R S E competitions in the past. Now it’s here when we need it most. (H/t to this guy for the 1977-78 info.)
Let's take this to your inbox. Sign up below.