NBA Horse tournament: Allie Quigley beats Chris Paul – as it happened

Last modified: 01: 01 AM GMT+0
  • ESPN hosts basketball challenge during Covid-19 lockdown

Final thoughts

It was a rather rough going at first, but that final match showed that this idea has promise. Maybe it will get better in the semifinals on Thursday at 9pm EST. Those will feature Conley vs Billups and Quigley vs. LaVine, with the winners meeting in the Finals. That will do it for tonight’s basketball-related activities, thanks to everybody who followed along. Ciao!

Chris Paul eliminated

Quigley banks a free throw and Paul’s attempt banks out. That’s H-O-R-S-E and that’s the end of Chris Paul.

Quigley calls for a right-wing bank shot that she can’t follow through on. Paul’s back in control, he calls on a one-hand, right-leg free throw. He serves it up, waiter-style. Quigley duplicates it and Paul, yet again, can’t make the shot he calls for. Quigley has yet another chance to end this.

Paul has to make one behind the backboard, which he does. Quigley has to go back to the well for a closing shot. She decides on a WNBA three-pointer. Paul makes it. This is legitimately suspenseful now.

Quigley can’t avoid hitting the rim and she’s at H-O-R. Paul’s still very much alive, but he can’t pull off his own shot. Quigley has another chance to close this one out.

Paul comes up with a ridiculously convoluted, multi-part shot that I can’t even follow, let alone imagine making. Quigley misses. She’s at H-O. Do we have a Paul comeback brewing?

Quigley is just one Paul miss away from putting me at 0-4 as far as pre-tournament predictions. I don’t feel quite as bad for jinxing him as I did Pierce though. Quigley misses her chance at putting Paul away and Paul can start calling shots.

Paul can’t make a bank shot and he’s at H-O-R-S. He’s on the ropes.

Paul can’t make a floater of the glass. He’s up to H-O-R. Quigley’s still in control.

This match feels substantially more entertaining than the previous three. Meanwhile, ESPN is promoting the hell out of this Michael Jordan documentary, which ESPN desperately needs to be a huge hit in the absence of real sports (and this tournament doesn’t quite count, to be frank).

Quigley misses a WNBA three pointer. Paul’s back in control and he goes simple here: a regular free throw and THIS is the shot Quigley can’t make. She gets her first letter.

Never mind, Paul can’t answer and he picks up a H. Quigley then sits down for her next shot attempt. “I just hope she misses,” Paul says, not confident he can match. She doesn’t, he does. He’s at H-O.

Quigley wins the coin toss, so she’s going to be in control to start things off. That seems to be something of an advantage here. It doesn’t last, however. A miss puts things back in Paul’s court… but he can’t take advantage. Quigley’s back in charge. We have a few misses here, but they’ve all been from the shot-callers, so nobody’s got a letter yet.

Quigley sounds a bit like she’s autotuned here thanks to a rather iffy audio situation. If you were hoping that Paul also had a sweet home gym like Conley, well he’s playing outdoors. Sorry.

Oh for the record, the reason that Zach LaVine, a two-time dunk contest winner, did not attempt a dunk in this contest? They’re not allowed. If ESPN ever does this again, I imagine they might change that.

Chris Paul will be up against Allie Quigley next. Let’s see if that ends up being a tad more competitive. It’s hard to picture either of them flaming out as badly as Pierce did.

I am now 0-for-3 in predictions, so sorry in advance to Chris Paul. LaVine was on fire from the get go and forced Pierce to match ridiculously tricky shots. He could very well be the favorite going forward.

Paul Pierce eliminated

Pierce brings out a scooter. Is he planning to introduce props into the equation here? He may not get the opportunity here. LaVine forces Pierce to take a way long three-pointer, out beyond the confines of the court and into the grass and he can’t make it. Pierce is eliminated.

LaVine did not get a single letter.

The reviews are even coming from NBA players themselves.

H-O-R-S-E could not be worse. I gave it 5 min. Hard pass.

— JJ Redick (@jj_redick) April 12, 2020

Pierce and LaVine show off their homes in a pretaped segment.

ESPN shows us shots of LaVine playing against his dog and why isn’t THIS the main event?

Can Pierce do a left handed jumper off the block? Pierce cannot. Make that H-O-R-S. LaVine bounces one off the backboard and then hits a smooth jumper and it seems like this will end Pierce, who has been struggling, but this manages to be the one shot he’s able to duplicate. Go figure.

LaVine is in control and has yet to receive a Scarlet Letter. When LaVine does a reverse, Pierce can’t even get his shot off during his attempt. Pierce is at H-O-R.

So far the glimpses into the players’ homes and personal lives has been far more interesting than the basketball itself. ESPN shows a few clips of them trying to set things up, highlighting what a clearly D.I.Y. affair this is. They jam econo, to quote to the Minutemen.

@HunterFelt It's a brave call, but I'm calling Zach LaVine for the tournament.

— ablade (@ablade) April 13, 2020

He’s in good position to at least win this matchup as Pierce misses again to put him at H-O.

Pierce starts things off with a Dirk Nowitzki attempt that fails, immediately putting LaVine in control. Not the best start for the Truth. “It’s raining,” Pierce complains right before missing and picking up his first letter.

Pierce does not have a home gym but he does have a sweet Boston Celtics logo on his court and his son providing emotional support. LaVine is out there on his own. Advantage: LaVine. Fewer distractions.

Well I’m 0-2 in my predictions. I will add that Conley, as he himself admitted, had the home court advantage of not having to play outside in wind and cold. I just hope I haven’t jinxed Paul Pierce who is going to face Zach LaVine.

For those of you wondering what you buy when you sign a contract worth $152 million.

Mike Conley's gym is bigger than any house I've lived in

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 12, 2020

Tamika Catchings eliminated

Catchings misses her shot, meaning that Conley’s back in control. Conley puts Catchings on her own lawn for an over-the-top of the backboard shot that she can’t make. Catchings has been eliminated.

Next up Conley challenges her to an off hand shot from the right corner, she’s at H-O-R-S. Catchings catches a break as Conley, in a position to put her away, misses the shot he was attempting. The ball’s back in her court (or driveway) and Conley can’t duplicate her shot. He picks up his first letter.

We pause on the proceedings for Catchings to talk about the late Kobe Bryant, whom she knew well. Then she misses an offhand free throw. She’s at H-O-R, now. I probably should stop making predictions about anything at this point.

Catchings is at H-O after being unable to duplicate a ridiculously intricate turnaround from Conley.

@HunterFelt @jonjohnsonwip TBF, the production quality was always going to be poor. Everyone is in quarantine, it would be irresponsible to send profession cameramen, sound people, trucks, etc, etc to every location. It's not great, but it is what it is!

— ablade (@ablade) April 12, 2020

I will grant you this: Conley’s ridiculously professional-grade home gym greatly improves the visual quality of the tournament.

Catchings catches the first letter. She and Conley are attempting much trickier shots than Young and Billups did.

Catchings is outside on her driveway. Conley has a home gym. This feels like a metaphor for the financial differences between men’s sports and women’s sports. Catchings wins the coin toss and will start the proceedings.

And now we have Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley. Twitter is honing in on the lack of production values for this event.

We just watched Trae Young vs Chauncey Billups and my son asked me “are we FaceTiming these guys?”

— Trenton Hassles Carmelo (@TrentonHassles) April 12, 2020

Trae Young eliminated

Young misses a one handed, underhand free throw and he’s now at H-O-R-S. He’s one miss away from elimination. He misses the very next attempt and that’s H-O-R-S-E. Billups advances. So much for my prediction about Young going all the way. Sorry for jinxing it, Trae. Nice comeback from Chauncey after falling behind.


And we return to the Blair Witch Basketball Tournament. Okay, somewhere along the way I missed a Young miss so it’s actually tied at H-O-R. (Yes, it’s really odd to be using letters instead of numbers to score this thing, it’s very post-modern.)

Okay so Billups is at H-O-R. Young is at H-O. Okay, the main problem so far is that the footage is so glitchy that I’m continually convinced that Comcast is lagging on me. I’m not alone here, apparently.

ESPN put zero effort, money into production value for HORSE challenge. Could have been great. Instead, it’s garbage.

— Jon Johnson (@jonjohnsonwip) April 12, 2020

I can’t tell if this is genuinely entertaining or if I’m just a basketball junkie who has gone forever since his last fix. Young balls behind the backboard… and misses! Billups is back in control. One dribble, right leg, three-point shot: he makes it! The degree of difficulty has increased dramatically and Young can’t answer. He gets his H.

Billups calls for right corner, feet out of bounds, behind the backboard. He makes that as well. Young has to go on his lawn to attempt this one and it’s no good. He gets an O.

Young’s going fairly conservative here, but maybe that’s best for us as it’s kind of easing us into the competiton.

Apparently this is tricky to watch in the UK.

@HunterFelt finally found a way to watch. Seems the only way is via illegal streams, which is crazy when there's a couple of dozen subscription TV channels.

— ablade (@ablade) April 12, 2020

Billups in control, three-ball, left wing, no net is the call. He misses. Young once again gets in control, he calls for a three and Billups smoothly knocks one down. Young calls for left handed free throw. He makes it, as he seems to be making just about everything. Billups misses. He’s up to H-O-R.

Left handed free throw from Young. He misses! Billups gets his first chance to pick a shot. He misses whatever he was trying. Young goes for a floater that can’t hit the rim. He also misses. Back to Billups, who hits a bank shot. Young knocks it in. Billups is still in control, he calls for backboard no rim… and his shot hits the rim. The ball’s back in Young’s court literally, he hits a left-handed free throw. Billups answers.

Young gets to choose first after Billups loses the coin toss. Young starts things off simple with a free throw, that may not quite be regulation. Billups answers. Next up is a three-pointer, which they both make. The next Young his a left-handed shot and Billups can’t answer. He gets himself a “H.”

In Norman, OK. Trae Young will be playing in his driveway. The audio quality is not ideal. Chauncey Billups has his own basketball court in Denver. Advantage: Billups.

A sense of how ESPN has been dealing with the lack of sports: They just wrapped up showing Spelling Bee reruns.

And here we have Mark Jones, broadcasting from his home (this is something that will never stop being surreal). The tournament is about to begin, let’s see how this works.

If it works.

It’s hard to know if this experiment will end up attracting the kind of viewership they get when airing actual games, but at the very least NBA Twitter, which has had absolutely nothing to talk about for weeks now, is paying attention.

I'm rooting for Paul Pierce. I want to say Trae Young will win. But HORSE is often won by the guy who plays it slow and steady. Might be CP3.

— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) April 12, 2020

I hate this prediction lots, by the way.


Well, we won’t get our champion today, we’ll have to wait for the grand finale on Thursday, but we can at least make predictions for who will advance to the semi-finals. Here are my picks:

Trae Young OVER Chauncey Billups. Young’s also the favorite to go all the way and I don’t disagree with the experts here.

Tamika Catchings OVER Mike Conley. Note, this wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve underestimated Conley, but I’m comfortable with my prediction.

Paul Pierce OVER Zach LaVine: This is solely because I’m a Boston Celtics fan, mind you.

Chris Paul OVER Allie Quigley: I’ll happily be wrong here.

If you have predictions, feel free to send them over here and we’ll expose them to the world. You can email or tweet them to @HunterFelt.

The most famous game of H-O-R-S-E ever played didn’t even really happen and, also, it was technically a game of “H.” In a legendary McDonalds ad campaign, living legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird exchanged increasingly impossible baskets, with the winner getting the prize of a… Big Mac and some fries.

The moral of this commercial? Some rich people are such absolute cheapskates that they will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid paying for anything, even if it’s just a hamburger. It’s like a complete refutation of the absurdity of trickle-down economics within the span of just 60 seconds.

The Participants

Our players: Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Trea Young of the Atlanta Hawks, Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings, current WNBA star Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky and retired legends Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce.

What’s also interesting in today’ tournament: it’s co-ed! Here are your first round matchups:

Trae Young vs Chauncey Billups

Tamika Catchings vs Mike Conley

Zach LaVine vs Paul Pierce

Chris Paul vs Allie Quigley

What is H-O-R-S-E?

The short answer is that H-O-R-S-E is a turn-based skill contest where players battle to show off their ability to make specific shots.

Could you go into more detail?

I was worried you would ask this. It’s a tad bit convoluted to explain, although it’s rather easy to follow once the game is in progress.

For the purpose of this tournament, players will be facing each other one-on-one. The first player (decided by a coin flip, in this particular instance) literally calls the shot: they specify a particular shot that they will attempt. Should they make it, the other player has to make the same shot. If that player fails, they get a letter starting with H (followed by O and then an R and then a… well I think you get the picture). Then it’s that player’s turn to challenge the other. A player is eliminated on the fifth shot they fail to pull off.

So the goal for each player is NOT to spell H-O-R-S-E?

Correct. Reverse “Wheel of Fortune” rules.

Why a horse? Why not a chicken?

It turns out that the origin of “H-O-R-S-E” is a nearly impossible thing to google. (I did find some interesting things about evolution, so it’s not a total wash.) Maybe it was just the optimal number of letters, as there’s a shorter version called P-I-G.

Wait, doesn’t this means that there’s no time limit here?

Yes, although this is scheduled to be a two-hour event, how long we’re actually here depends on how good the players are at making shots. (Spoilers: they are very, very good.) If this does last a long time, it’s probably a good thing. The more competitive tonight’s tournament is, the more entertaining it will likely be. Plus, hey, there hasn’t been basketball in a month, so in my book the longer this goes, the better.


Oh hey look, it’s an actual sporting event!

As you’ve probably heard, pretty much the entire U.S. has been shut down for the last month. In fact, the NBA deserves at least parital credit in helping the country realize just how serious the coronavirus pandemic was about to become. After Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, Adam Silver made the quick decision to immediately shut down the league indefinitely. It was a bold move, and the other sports leagues followed suit.

Here we are a month later and a healthy percentage of the country is under quarantine. Ironically, we’ve never needed the distraction of live sports more. There are only so many episodes of “Tiger King” to binge, after all. Thankfully, ESPN and the NBA managed to figure out a way to put together a vaguely sports-related competition without, you know, putting huge groups of people at risk. While team basketball, even in an empty arena, is a no-go, H-O-R-S-E is turn based. This means, players can compete with each other without violating social distancing guidelines.

ESPN, which has been desperate for content over the last few weeks for obvious reasons, plans to make the most out of this tournament. Today is merely the first round and we won’t crown a winner until the remaining two rounds play out on Thursday.

The good thing about social distancing is that it doesn’t affect your ability to communicate with us. We’ll be taking your questions and commentary throughout tonight’s competition. Just shoot an email to or tweet @HunterFelt and we’ll include your thoughts in the liveblog. The tournament is scheduled to start at 7:00pm EST, but we’ll be back before then with some further pre-competition thoughts, including an explanation of just what H-O-R-S-E actually is.

Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s LeBron James on the NBA shutdown:

LeBron James says he won’t be able to enjoy “closure” on the Los Angeles Lakers’ superb season if it is unable to be completed.

The Lakers were in stunning form throughout the season that was halted by coronavirus on 11 March.

With 19 games until the play-offs, the club had easily the best win-loss record in the Western Conference, at 49-14.

They led the second-place LA Clippers by five and a half games games and were steaming towards their first playoff appearance since 2013.

In a conference call with reporters, James said while he could be proud of the Lakers’ performances this season, he would still feel less than fulfilled if the season can not be completed.

“I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year (with) a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year,” James was quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated.

“(But) I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure if we do not have an opportunity to finish this season.”


Hunter Felt

The GuardianTramp

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