No good deed goes unpunished.
On Sunday night, the NBA and ESPN attempted to give fans some form of content to soothe their frayed hoops nerves as the league’s suspension passed the one-month mark. The idea was a game of backyard H-O-R-S-E to be played by eight players: four active NBA players (Chris Paul, Zach LaVine, Trae Young and Mike Conley Jr.); two retired NBA players (Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups); one pending Hall of Famer (the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings); and one active WNBA player (Allie Quigley).
The event would bring a certain level of charm and togetherness to the NBA world during a time when most of us are in isolation of some kind. The money generated from the event would go to charity. Who could possibly be against that?
Well, Pelicans guard J.J. Redick, for one. He probably would be a pretty good H-O-R-S-E player himself—he’s eighth among active players in 3-pointers made and seventh among active players in career 3-point percentage (41.6 percent).
He was not, however, a fan of the H-O-R-S-E show.
Redick even doubled down on that, saying he’s like to see a Barstool Sports podcast host, “run fake plastic toy horses around a track in his 1 bedroom apartment.”
Redick Supporting the NBA
To Redick’s credit, he did defend his position. There’s little doubt that the H-O-R-S-E competition was difficult to watch, with players hurling up mundane shots in sometimes windy conditions with video and audio quality that appeared to be from 2004 or so. It was not exactly a triumph of production values.
But then, the league and the world are in the grip of a pandemic. Maybe this was an instance in which we could lighten up. One Twitter user pointed out, “It’s ok but don’t you think you should support your league?”
Redick is the host of a popular podcast that frequently features NBA players and has long been a good player to interview—his willingness to work with the media has helped put a good sheen on the league. So he pointed out that supporting the league is something he has been doing for the last 14 years.
HORSE Challenge Continues Thursday
As for the results, there was a bit of an upset when Trae Young, who is comfortable launching 30-footers in the midst of games, was knocked off by Billups. Quigley, playing on a driveway in what looked like a typical suburban neighborhood, beat Chris Paul and his shrubbery-lined luxurious home court on a free-throw bank shot.
LaVine shut out Pierce, winning on a deep 3-pointer, and Conley did the same to Catchings. The next round and finals will be on Thursday evening.
As unimpressed as Redick may have been with the quality of the competition, he did field some incoming sarcastic criticism with aplomb. The writer and actor Nathan Brimmer tweeted him, saying, “It’s easier for you to win that than the C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N-S-H-I-P, though.”
To which Redick responded with a swish: “Sounds like an awfully long game in the backyard.”