The NBA and NBA Players Association “officially” announced Thursday the eight participants who will take part in a televised HORSE competition that starts this Sunday.

With the 2019-20 NBA season suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA, its players and its partners have been itching to get the players back out on the court in one way or another. After searching far and near for compelling programming, they settled on a HORSE competition to at least kick things off.

After a quick crowdsource, it seems to me that some people are loving this idea and while some are absolutely hating it. Most tell me they “might” watch. Whether you love the idea or hate it, there is one good component coming out of this competition, the charity aspect: State Farm will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus response efforts. This donation builds on the more than $74 million that has been contributed by the NBA Family to date to support coronavirus relief efforts through its NBA Together campaign.

NBA HORSE Competition Details

The NBA HORSE Competition will begin on Sunday, April 12, at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN. The participants will be divided into two groups of four, with the winners of the first two games in each group meeting in the semifinals.  The winner from each group will move on to the championship round. ESPN will present the four quarterfinal games on Sunday. The semifinals and the championship game will air on Thursday, April 16, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

A coin toss at the start of each game will determine who shoots first, with the more senior player calling heads or tails.  Players must describe each shot attempt, specifying the type of score they intend to make before taking a shot, such as a bank shot or swish. Dunking is prohibited. The first player in each game to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated.

Now, let’s talk about the eight players participating. The list includes current NBA players Chris Paul, Trae Young, Zach LaVine and Mike Conley, two former NBA stars in Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, and current WNBA star Allie Quigley and WNBA legend Tamika Catchings.

HORSE Odds

Next up, the odds, because you know people are going to be betting on this. A couple of offshore books have already put out some odds.

Via 5Dimes:

Trae Young +305
Chris Paul +305
Zach LaVine +355
Mike Conley +460
Paul Pierce +800
Chauncey Billups +850
Allie Quigley +1100
Tamika Catchings +1250

Via BetOnline:

Trae Young +200
Chris Paul +250
Mike Conley Jr. +300
Paul Pierce +400
Zach LaVine +500
Chauncey Billups +600
Allie Quigley +800
Tamika Catchings +1000

Here are a couple of fun matchup bets you can also make on BetOnline:

NBA HORSE Competition First Round Matchups

Trae Young vs Chauncey Billups
Trae Young               -200 (1/2)
Chauncey Billups      +150 (3/2)

Mike Conley Jr. vs Tamika Catchings
Mike Conley Jr          -500 (1/5)
Tamika Catchings      +300 (3/1)

Paul Pierce vs Zach Lavine
Paul Pierce               -140 (5/7)
Zach Lavine              EVEN   (1/1)

Chris Paul vs Allie Quigley
Chris Paul                 -300 (1/3)
Allie Quiqley              +200 (2/1)

Vik’s Pick To Win

Not a lot of people remember this, but the NBA held HORSE games during NBA All-Star Weekend in 2009 and 2010. Kevin Durant actually won both times. At that time, no dunking was allowed and players had 24 seconds to create or mimic shots. It looks like rules are probably going to be similar in the sense that dunking is not going to be allowed in this contest either. That hurts Zach LaVine, because no one would have been able to replicate his 360 from the free-throw line dunk.

Anyways, if you are betting on this thing, don’t forget that these players will be shooting from their own home court. There is always an advantage there. These are the best of the best, so they can all shoot, but I’d probably go with a gunner like Trae Young +305 (5D) or Zach LaVine +500 (BetOnline). If you are looking for long-shot, look no further than Allie Quigley +1100 (5D), as she might be the overall best shooter out of all of these players. I also like LaVine at even money in the first round against Paul Pierce. Maybe I’m biased as a Bulls fan, but LaVine is in better shape and has deeper range. Just a reminder, but make sure you always shop around for the best odds.

Mostly everyone knows what HORSE is, but in case you don’t, here is a quick breakdown of the game:

H-O-R-S-E is a basketball shooting game in which players take turns shooting at the hoop from different locations. If someone makes a shot, the other competitors have to hit the same shot from the same spot or they get a letter toward the word HORSE.

The first person to complete the word is eliminated from the competition and the goal is to make shots and avoid getting enough letters to spell the word.

Good luck and let’s enjoy some sports.