The photo, posted to Patrick Beverley’s Instagram account Monday afternoon, showed the Clippers guard with both hands wrapped tightly around a basketball during a recent game, his face so close to its leather skin that it looked as if he was sharing a secret.
“Miss It,” Beverley wrote.
Beverley is one of many around the NBA who, three weeks into the league’s suspended season following the first positive test by a player for the novel coronavirus, are antsy for the return of basketball. He is also one of several who will take part in its return Friday — kind of.
Sixteen NBA players, including Beverley and Clippers center Montrezl Harrell, will take part in a NBA 2K video-game tournament that will be broadcast, beginning Friday, on ESPN and ESPN2, and running through April 12. The competitors are playing for more than a virtual crown -- $100,000 will go toward the champion's charity of choice, according to the league. The donation will be paid by the NBA, 2K and the National Basketball Players Association
The players are seeded by their rating in the game, as well as the length of their tenure in the real-life NBA. With a 96 overall rating, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is the top seed and faces Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. at 4:30 p.m. PT Friday on ESPN. Beverley is seeded 14, facing third-seeded Hassan Whiteside of Portland, and the eighth-seeded Harrell opens against Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.
Other participants include DeMarcus Cousins, who was waived by the Lakers in February, Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Cleveland center Andre Drummond. Before the tournament begins, each player will select eight NBA teams to potentially play as, using each team once. The first and second rounds are single-elimination, and the semifinals and finals a best-of-three series. Each matchup also will be streamed on platforms including NBA.com, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch, according to the league.
“We're thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times,” said Jason Argent, a senior vice president at 2K, in a statement. “Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together — including athletes, fans and families — and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament.”
The 2K tournament isn’t the only virtual way players are filling the current basketball void.
— The Boardroom (@boardroom) March 31, 2020
L.A. Sparks guard Chelsea Gray is one of five WNBA players taking part in the NBA 2K League’s “Three-for-All Showdown” that runs Tuesday through Friday in a three-on-three tournament played for a prize pool of $25,000. WNBA players including Gray, Washington forward Aerial Powers, Las Vegas guard Sugar Rodgers, Dallas guard Allisha Gray and Atlanta's Alexis Jones will play against competitors from the NFL and NBA G League. Twitch and YouTube will stream the tournament.