Patrick Beverley, Mike Conley Rep Arkansas In NBA’s Strange New World

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Patrick Beverley

-Parker Tillson 

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley — after defeating Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond in the ‘NBA 2K’ Players Tournament quarter-finals —  grabbed the front of his Arkansas Razorbacks hoodie and flashed it at his webcam as he belted a hog call in to the ears of Drummond and a nationwide audience last week.

After parading around the Razorback cardinal and white, Beverley, who won SEC Freshman of the Year in 2007, confidently touted himself, asking, “Who’s next?” multiple times.

The longtime LeBron-agitator brought his agitating antics to the virtual hardwood, trash-talking his way through the first two rounds of the tournament. There were clips of him yelling for a timeout after diving on the ground to recover a ball that one of his players had stolen, in true Beverley fashion. In one instance, he even stood up and started clapping at the screen after taking a 19-point lead at half against Blazers center Hassan Whiteside.

After beating Whiteside by 30 points, Beverley defeated Drummond 69-62 and hollered the chant of his alma mater. 

Beverley played for two years at Arkansas, and averaged 13 points a game for a Razorback team that reached the SEC Championship and lost in consecutive years. But after Beverley was deemed ineligible to play prior to the 2008-09 season because of an academic dishonesty issue, he signed with a team in Dnipro, Ukraine to sharpen his skills with a possible NBA career in sight. 

After a year in Dnipro and season-long stints with Greece and Russian teams, Beverley got an opportunity with the Houston Rockets G-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and spent a week there before being called up to the NBA team. Beverley quickly developed a reputation as a hard-nosed, bothersome defender, which has lasted him eight years in the NBA at 31 years old.  

Although his NBA career is ongoing, his tenure in the NBA 2K Players Tournament came to an abrupt end Saturday.

After beating Beverley in the first of a three-game series, Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton concluded a dominant 2-0 sweep, controlling his Suns against a much better Denver Nuggets team controlled by Beverley. 

In typical Beverley fashion, the point guard set down his headphones, tossed his controller and walked off after the defeat, as Ayton conversed with an empty chair.

Ayton went on to face Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker, in an all-Phoenix Suns final. Booker swept Ayton 2-0 behind two double-digit victories as he cruised to a tournament win and earned $100,000 to donate to a Coronavirus-related charity of his choosing. 

The NBA 2K Players Tournament is just one of the several events that major sports leagues/organizations have put on in an effort to entertain its fans during this temporary isolation period because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The MLB and various soccer leagues such as the English Premier League have also invited their players to take part in video game tournaments of their corresponding sport. These kinds of tournaments gives fans a window into athletes’ personal lives, allowing them to see how their favorite stars interact with each other in a casual, competitive setting. 

It’s more than gaming, too. Last Sunday, current NBA, WNBA and retired players participated in a nationally televised H-O-R-S-E tournament.

The first round of the tournament saw Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine, retired five-time NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups, WNBA sharpshooter Allie Quigley and Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (a Fayetteville native) advance to the semifinals, which will air at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN. 

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Each participant had a stationary camera set up, and some of them had others recording with their phones so they could showcase their creative shots from multiple angles. Aside from the competition, the stars were able to show off features of their houses such as Zach LaVine, who displayed a batting cage in his backyard to the spectators, adjacent to his bright-green and blue basketball court. 

Much to the confusion of viewers, LaVine told the camera that he was better at baseball than basketball growing up. Viewers were left wondering just how good the two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner was on the diamond.

Granted, a H-O-R-S-E tournament or a video game competition is nothing compared to the heat and excitement of a real game. Still, it’s refreshing to see how sports networks and leagues have tried to entertain their viewers during this hiatus from sports that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused. 

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