Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook was an early name for the NBA’s H-O-R-S-E game, but the latest news suggests Russ won’t be in it after all.
When it was first announced that the NBA was partnering with ESPN for a nationally televised game of H-O-R-S-E, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported the unofficial list of candidates were Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, and Zion Williamson.
Westbrook and Williamson would’ve made for a great Slam Dunk Contest, but seemed rather odd for a game of H-O-R-S-E. For this reason it seemed almost certain that the list would get revised a bit, which is what appears to be taking shape.
On Wednesday ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski compiled a much different pool of candidates, while being sure to mention that this list was also not yet complete.
Sources: The NBA and ESPN plan to televise a HORSE competition is nearing completion and among those expected to participate include Chris Paul, Trae Young and Zach LaVine. Competition will also include a couple of WNBA players and recent NBA alumni.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 8, 2020
The new list still includes CP3, but has Zach LaVine and Trae Young, as opposed to Russ, Zion, and Mitchell. Although this is a bummer for Rockets’ fans, as the level of rooting interest took a significant hit. But Young, LaVine, and CP3 also have proven themselves to be able to hit trick shots, and Young has deep range, which should make him the clear front runner.
It’s important to note that this list hasn’t been finalized, but Wojnarowski has proven himself to be the most reliable basketball insider in the media circles, and he doesn’t generally report things until it’s a sure thing. With Woj’s credibility, it’s likely this list will be made official soon.
Although this is disappointing, it was surprising to hear Russ being mentioned in the first place. On the other hand, The Brodie would be a force in the Dunk Contest, but that seems like something we would’ve seen by now if it were going to happen. In fact, Russ offered up an explanation of why he hasn’t participated in the Dunk Contest thus far.
Russell Westbrook on why he's never been in the dunk contest: "I only dunk on people."
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) February 13, 2015
This is classic Russ, and yet another example of the fiery, ultra-competitor he’s shown himself to be. This same competitiveness is exactly why it’d be a tragedy for Russ to not be in the H-O-R-S-E game, or any basketball-related event (excluding the 3-point contest).
But it’s safe to say Russ would be the front-runner in any Dunk Contest, regardless of the pool of candidates. Don’t hold your breath though.