In the end, Patrick Beverley was nowhere to be seen Saturday.
After he was swept in a best-of-three semifinal of the «NBA 2K» Players Tournament, the Clippers guard removed his headset and walked out of the view of the camera mounted in his home. That left his opponent, the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, unsure where his once-chattering opponent had gone.
“He walked away?” Ayton said on the ESPN broadcast. “Oh. Good game, Pat. Appreciate you.”
One month to the day since the NBA suspended its season, leaving uncertain whether the Clippers will get a chance to compete for the first NBA Finals appearance in their franchise’s 50-year history, the team’s championship-round drought continued Saturday, at least virtually.
Even before Beverley bowed out against Ayton in semifinal losses by six and seven points, the sun set on a potential all-Clippers esports championship when Phoenix’s Devin Booker swept Clippers center Montrezl Harrell in the other semifinal. Harrell opened with a 14-point loss while playing with the Houston Rockets against Booker’s Clippers, then by three while using the Milwaukee Bucks against Booker’s Toronto Raptors.
Booker then toppled Ayton, his Suns teammate, to win the first tournament championship and earn a $100,000 donation to the charity of his choice for coronavirus relief efforts. Booker never lost en route to the title, winning every game but one by at least 10 points.
Ayton reserved Milwaukee and the Lakers, two of the best teams in “NBA 2K,” for the championship round but lost by 10 points to Booker’s Rockets in the opener with Los Angeles.
Attempting to even the series with the Bucks, he still lost by 12 to Booker’s Denver Nuggets.
Booker’s handle on the close-out game was such that its most suspenseful moment came when he accidentally paused the action and nearly quit the game late in the third quarter.
With sports paused by the coronavirus outbreak, the video-game tournament was the first alternative competition offered up by the NBA and its partners, 2K and ESPN, to help fill the live-programming void. Saturday’s final rounds were broadcast for six hours on ESPN. As a product of its quarantined times, the tournament ended with a post-title interview via webcam from Booker’s backyard. He answered questions while petting his dog.
“I said from the beginning it was going to be me and Deandre in the championship,” Booker said, and added that he apologized to Harrell for ruining the potential championship face-off between Clippers teammates.
Some oddsmakers installed Beverley, the 14th seed, as the favorite after the first round, and at least unofficially, he’d already locked up the title as its most entertaining player because of his in-game commentary, which ranged from outbursts of celebration to spurts of trash talk. He seemed to find Ayton’s insistence on referring to the virtual Suns by their real-life nickname of “Valley Boys” particularly puzzling.
But there wasn’t much to say after his final loss.
“No, we can’t go out like this,” Beverley said.
“I had to show you what was up with the Suns right now,” Ayton said.