After two hours of watching players exchange trick shots from their home courts, on Thursday, it was Mike Conley who finally emerged victorious. He wiped the floor with Hall-of-Famer to-be Tamika Catchings and took care of business against Chauncey Billups in the semifinals by using his ambidextrousness.
In the other semi, it took a comeback, but Zach LaVine made it through by knocking off Chicago Sky All-Star Allie Quigley. She was scoring from all over her court and making life tough on LaVine. That was the only way she had any shot, getting hot early and keeping it going.
But using his athletic ability and competition loopholes, LaVine got Quigley the final three letters of the match to secure his win and an immediate trip to the finals.
It seemed that there was a day or two in between the matchups in real-time, given that this was on television at 10 pm ET. Conley and LaVine, an up-and-comer against an established guard in the league for more than a decade.
This promised to be a fun one with Conley’s unique home-gym advantage and ability to score from the outside with the off-hand. LaVine’s bounce also gave him a unique advantage at shots that involved hanging in the air for long periods.
As the two exchanged letters through the early parts of the match, Conley made sure to get LaVine by making shots with his right hand. Zach has no semblance of a shot from anywhere with his left, so that is what would wind up tripping him up in the battle.
He had some gorgeous finishes from in close, but none of it would be enough to knock off the Utah guard. Conley was the only one that was able to play from indoors, so that gave him an added unique advantage.
He became the inaugural champion after hitting the same shot that sunk Catchings when he had H-O-R-S-. A lay-up from behind the basket, on the move. He got Zach to miss it and thus became the inaugural H-O-R-S-E champion.
And it is something he clearly deserved. He was not stoppable and put all of his tricks to good use. He claimed to have spent over five hours in the gym the day of the Final, getting shots up and preparing. That is one heck of a statement to lie about on National TV, so let’s just believe it.
Now, $100,000 goes to the charity of his choice. A great cause for the State Farm-sponsored tournament. The amount of $15,000 went to each of the eight participants’ choice of charity initially, and then the $100,000 was a great incentive to play hard to win to support whatever it was you truly wanted to give back to. It would be great to see something like this happen again while we’re all inside.
This was not the basketball competition we needed per se, but it sure was great to see real competition.
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