UPDATE: NBA2K announced that Trae Young and Harrison Barnes will square off at 9:30 pm ET on Friday evening.
SINGLE ELIMINATION. Round 1 starts tonight at 7pm ET on ESPN #NBA2KTourney pic.twitter.com/VpxINSYpUt— NBA 2K20 (@NBA2K) April 3, 2020
It will likely be a while before NBA players are taking part in live, on-court action and, as a result, there is an appetite for any kind of basketball content to pass the time. That hunger was on full display when the sports world clamored for ESPN to move up a release date for the upcoming “The Last Dance” documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and, after the worldwide leader announced that the documentary will premiere two months early, the NBA is also making moves to put present-day players in the spotlight.
On Monday evening, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the league was planning what he described as a “players-only NBA 2K tournament” that would feature some prominent players. By Tuesday morning, names began to leak out and a bracket appeared — via Kevin Durant’s The Boardroom — that featured Atlanta Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young as the No. 2 seed in the 16-player field.
.@NBA2K's "Players-Only" tournament will air starting this Friday on @ESPN. Here are the brackets - who do you think is gonna take it all? pic.twitter.com/51ltOfjeqR— The Boardroom (@boardroom) March 31, 2020
Young is often seen on social media playing NBA2K and, given that he is (easily) the most prominent member of Atlanta’s roster, it also makes sense to include him from an exposure standpoint. Obviously, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but, at the same time, it is a good opportunity for the league to market some of its stars and basketball-minded consumers will assuredly tune in for the broadcasts.
After the initial buzz, ESPN confirmed that the league will be kicking off with the following schedule:
- Friday, April 3, ESPN, 7-8:30 p.m. ET
- Friday, April 3, ESPN2, 8:30-11:30 p.m. ET
- Sunday, April 5, ESPN2, 12-4 p.m. ET
- Quarterfinals: Tuesday, April 7, ESPN2, 7-11 p.m. ET
- Semifinals/Finals: Saturday, April 11, ESPN, Time TBD
The winner of the tournament will claim $100,000 for charity in support of COVID-19 relief.