Basketball: NBA players set to bring H-O-R-S-E competition to ESPN

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets. Photo credit: Image: Reuters

A staple of American driveways, a H-O-R-S-E competition among top NBA players could be coming to TV screens in the near future, says sportscasting giant ESPN.

The NBA and ESPN are finalising the details, with players possibly participating from home gyms with person-to-person interaction limited, during the coronavirus pandemic, according to network columnist and reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.

In a typical game of two or more players, if a competitor makes a shot, his rivals must make the identical shot or earn a letter in the word 'horse'. A player is eliminated when their collection of missed shots spell 'horse'.

Renewed interest in the game was sparked in 1993, when Larry Bird and Michael Jordan played a game of H-O-R-S-E during a McDonald's commercial created for the Super Bowl.

In 2009, the NBA introduced a version of the game during All-Star Weekend festivities, although it was called G-E-I-C-O. It lasted two years and Kevin Durant, then of Oklahoma City Thunder, won both times.

Phoenix Suns' Paul Westphal also won an NBA-sanctioned game of H-O-R-S-E during the 1977-78 season.

The league has been creative during the suspension of the season due to the pandemic, with a players-only NBA 2K tournament on Friday, when top-seeded Durant fell to 16th seed Derrick Jones Jr of the Miami Heat in the opener.