Like every other sports league, the NBA is paused right now. However, the fact that there aren’t any actual games airing hasn’t stopped some people from wondering how the rest of the season would play out.
So online stunt collective MSCHF is launching NBA.FM, a new simulation that will broadcast hyperrealistic audio gameplay from the remaining games on the NBA’s 2020 calendar. MSCHF has partnered with official broadcasters to provide commentary on the game as if it were actually happening, and the broadcasts will feature exclusive interviews with players like the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, Boston Celtics’ Grant Williams, and Sacramento Kings’ Harrison Barnes among others.
“We saw how devastated fans are and how people are stuck at home, so we wanted to bring back the magic of the NBA and give people a small escape while we all try to get through this,” Daniel Greenberg, head of commerce at MSCHF, told The Verge.
MSCHF’s goal is to air the remaining 25 games in total, recreating every game that was supposed to be nationally televised, Greenberg said. Instead of running simulations through a game like NBA 2K, which Twitch streamers and YouTubers have done in the past to simulate who might win the championship series, everything will be dictated by the broadcasters. Think the NBA meets fanfiction rather than a computer simulating potential results.
As leagues are forced to contend with shorter seasons and uncertain futures, alternative entertainment methods are being explored. Racing leagues are putting drivers behind virtual steering wheels in video games and broadcasting those races. The NBA is interested in exploring similar options, according to Yahoo Sports, with a “players-only NBA 2K tournament that is expected to feature some of the league’s sharpest video gamers, including Kevin Durant.” The games will be broadcast on ESPN. The NBA is hoping to launch the 16-player tournament event on April 3rd, and it’s expected to last 10 days.
Obviously, these efforts won’t bring the NBA back sooner. A number of players have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and the league isn’t going to risk anyone else’s health at a time when government bodies and health organizations are recommending strong social distancing protocols. Having gaming tournaments and fictionalized broadcasts to fill the time for fans, however, isn’t a bad idea.
NBA.FM’s first game pits the Houston Rockets against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, March 31st at 7:30PM ET. The second game of the night will see the Denver Nuggets take on the Golden State Warriors at 10PM ET. The full schedule can be seen on MSCHF’s website.