The NBA is really outpacing the other leagues with what it has done during the league shutdown to keep fans engaged. There was the 2K Players Only Tournament. The NBA Instagram takeovers. And now, a pre-taped H-O-R-S-E- competition that will air four matchups on Sunday with the participants competing on separate courts.
The first matchup pairs rising superstar Trae Young vs. Mr. Big Shot, former NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups. Billups spent a year playing in Ice Cube’s BIG3 league and commentates games for the LA Clippers and ESPN. He’s still relevant in the game.
Matchup two will feature WNBA Hall-of-Famer to-be Tamika Catchings and Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley. This matchup will likely feature a whole lot of fancy lay-up packages, and deep threes. It will be great to see Catchings back on a basketball court again.
The third matchup is likely the one to be most interesting. High-flying, bucket-getting Zach LaVine of the Bulls will go against Celtics great and ESPN analyst Paul Pierce. Zach has proven in Chicago this year that he can score from anywhere. And Pierce was always known for his ability to hit big shots. They will be going shot for shot.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul will take on Chicago Sky three-time All-Star Allie Quigley in the final matchup. Two veterans of their respective leagues, this one will feature a lot of grit and stick-to-itiveness.
It took Quigley several years to find success in the WNBA, but she’s going to be ready for this. A matchup of two long-time players that both made the most recent All-Star Game.
In addition to the H-O-R-S-E tournament, there was some front-office news last night. Art?ras Karnišovas, formerly of the Denver Nuggets, has been hired as the Bulls top executive. He has helped turn the Nuggets into a contender over the past few years.
Karnišovas played his college ball at Seton Hall in the early 90s and had a nine-year overseas playing career before entering the NBA. He worked in the league’s basketball operations office from 2003 through 2008. He then went to Houston to work as an international scout for the Rockets for five years. Denver hired him as an assistant GM in the summer of 2013.
Masai Ujiri left for Toronto in 2013, which put Tim Connolly in charge. He has been in that role since, with Karnišovas as his second-in-command. And now for the first time his in his NBA career (which began 17 years ago), he is going to be the one in charge.
He will be running a Bulls team that has struggled to perform at even a mediocre level for the past few years. The players have not taken well to Jim Boylen, with several players not listening much to him during games. We’ll see if a coaching change is made after this long break from gameplay. That should be his first step as he tries to make Chicago a destination for free agents again.
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