NBA 2K Players Tournament to give hungry fans taste of basketball

In this file photo taken on September 26, 2019 Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets speaks to media during Brooklyn Nets Media Day at HSS Training Center on September 27, 2019 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (AFP Photo)

NBA fans starved for action amid the shutdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic will get a taste of competition in an NBA 2K Players Tournament starting on Friday.

The NBA, the players' association and 2K announced the NBA 2K Players Tournament on Tuesday. The winner of the weeklong competition will receive a $100,000 donation to a coronavirus-related relief effort of their choice.

Players have been seeded according to their NBA 2K player rating – from Durant's 96 down to Derrick Jones Jr.'s 78 – and tenure. Durant, the Brooklyn Nets star who sat out this NBA season due to an injury, will face Jones in the first game Friday night. Other matches will air on ESPN2. The championship is set for April 11.

Participants will each select a pool of eight teams prior to the tournament and can only play with each club once throughout the tournament. Rounds 1 and 2 will be single-elimination, and the semifinals and finals will be best-of-three.

The other matchups include Young vs. Harrison Barnes, Hassan Whiteside vs. Pat Beverley, Donovan Mitchel vs. Rui Hachimura, Devin Booker vs. Michael Porter Jr., Andre Drummond vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine vs. Deandre Ayton and Montrezl Harrell vs. Domantas Sabonis.

The NBA has been shut down since March 11, the night it was revealed that Utah center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to have a positive diagnosis for the virus. The league is still discussing scenarios for resuming play once allowed.

As shelter-in-place orders and quarantines in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought actual sports to a standstill, the popular NASCAR stock car series showed that eSports can help fill the void for sports broadcasters and fans.

Over the past two weeks, NASCAR drivers have competed in iRacing events that were aired on Fox Sports, drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers.

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