Surreal is the word that best describes watching ESPN’s live NBA Horse Challenge. The competition started on Sunday with uneven basketball courts, inexpensive basketball hoops that look like they came from Kmart, one resort-style indoor home gym, and a legit match between Allie Quigley and Chris Paul sum up the first day of this made for TV event.
The matches were a bizarre mix of good shots, bad strategy (Trae Young), incredible skills (Mike Conley), blurry video, hard to hear audio and Paul Pierce who looks good on TV but is clearly ‘Charles Barkley’ out of shape. When Pierce jumps he actually goes down not up.
From an entertainment perspective, I was just happy that NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver approved this event. Look the event was flawed in a wide variety of ways, but I was certainly happy to once again watch some form of live sports on TV. Basically, the NBA Horse Challenge was good enough to warrant tuning in on April 16th at 9 p.m. ET to watch the semifinals and championship match.
The Final Four
The final four is set (sorry March Madness) and the first match will be between the 2004 NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups taking on the best horseplayer in the NBA, the ambidextrous Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley Jr.
The second match is a battle for Horse supremacy in Chicago. Zach LaVine the high flying Chicago Bulls guard will take on the super sharpshooting Allie Quigley of The Chicago Sky.
I can’t seem to get the visual of Mike Conley Jr. standing in his resort-style gym out of my head. Conley who clearly spent some of his $153 million dollars on his gym is ambidextrous and appears to be the best pure shooter left in the competition.
You know things are still strange in the world when you start breaking down why Conley will win the NBA Horse Challenge. But here I go.
Conley has many advantages over the competition:
1. He’s a legit long ball shooter from any side of the court.
2. Flawless stationary shots with either hand. He can go left, he can go right.
3. Clearly the time off has given him his legs back. No issues jumping off his left or right foot. I can’t believe I just wrote that!
4. Trickshot capabilities from behind the hoop are as smooth as Jordan flying during his prime.
5. Conley will be playing indoors while everyone else is outside dealing with uneven concrete and weeds growing through their courts. His gym is pristine, it looks like the floor is waxed daily. Plus the gym actually has the words “Dream and Believe” plastered on the walls.
For these reasons and many more, I’m formally making my prediction that Mike Conely Jr. will be crowned The NBA’s first Horse Challenge Champion. I did reach out to the NBA to find out if an actual crown will be awarded to the champion, but they have yet to respond.