• In 2009 the NBA unofficially incorporated this event to the All-Star Weekend. The contest was aired live on TNT with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber. The H-O-R-S-E Tournament was not a success, and lasted only 2 editions.
  • H-O-R-S-E is a popular game where the only skill required is shooting. The object is to avoid acquiring the five letters in the word “horse”.
  • With two players competing, player #1 is allowed to shoot from anywhere on or off the court and, if he makes the shot, then player #2 must repeat the same shot from the same position. If player #2 misses, he receives the first “letter” from the word “horse”.
  • However, if player #1 misses his original shot; then player #2 is now free to shoot from anywhere on the court and, hopefully, force player #1 to try and duplicate his made shot.
  • A player is knocked out of the game once he has enough letters to spell out the word “horse.”
  • Before the first All-Star appearance, in 1978 the CBS came up with a H.O.R.S.E. tournament among some of the league’s top players, taped during the off-season, to be shown at halftime of regular season broadcasts.
  • Pistol Pete Maravich, with an arsenal of incredible trick shots, signed up to participate. So did such legends as Bob McAdooGeorge Gervin or Paul Westphal.

2009 HORSE Contest

Kevin Durant  Watch 2009 contest highlights

  • Kevin Durant came back on fire late in the contest and won the first edition.
  • Mayo made the best shot going up into a sitting area in the stands from a half-court distance.
  • As the auto insurance company Geico sponsored the contest, the letters were changed from the usual H-O-R-S-E to G-E-I-C-O.
Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder6-9215G-E-I-C
OJ MayoMemphis Grizzlies6-4210G-E-I-C-O
Joe JohnsonAtlanta Hawks6-7235G-E-I-C-O


Kevin Durant went first, making a long two-pointer from the left corner. Mayo also made the shot, nothing but net.

  • Joe Johnson missed a three from the top of the key.
  • Durant tried to hit from out of bounds, behind and to the left of the basket, shooting over the backboard too strong. Webber and Kenny Smith started the airball chants.
  • Mayo was up next. “Off the glass from the elbow” he said as he hit from just to the left of the free throw line. Johnson matched it. So did Durant.
  • Mayo’s turn again. “Off the glass in the sun” a few foot further than before, he missed.
  • Johnson was up, drove down the left side, put the ball through his legs for a left-handed layup, and hit it. Durant blew it, throwing the ball to the bottom of the backboard, getting the first letter “G”
  • Mayo tried again an over-the-backboard jumper from the left out of bounds, this time with a more complicated angle, the ball touches the rim.
  • Johnson shooting in the paint, stood backwards, and with one hand shot over his head, bouncing it in. Durant tried to match but the ball went over the backboard. Second letter “G-E”
  • Mayo missed a 3 point jumper from the left.
  • Johnson goes about 10 feet behind the three-point line towards the right side, but missed.
  • Durant misses another three from the right corner.
  • Mayo, from a sitting position, airball a mid-range jumper from the right elbow.
  • Johnson again goes for a between-the-legs, left-handed reverse layup, this time from the right side, but misses.
  • Durant misses a 3 point jumper from 30 foot.
  • Mayo misses from the top of the key.
  • Johnson hits right corner three-pointer. Durant misses and now has 3 letters “G-E-I”
  • Mayo tries a one-handed 3 point shot from the right elbow and misses.
  • Johnson goes about 15 beet behind the right three-point elbow, sits down at a table behind a laptop, and fires a wild shot. It had a slight chance, but missed.
  • Durant misses from the right three-point elbow. He’s totally awful so far.
  • Mayo, goes up into the stands, about 10+ feet behind the top of the key three-point line and up in a seating area, hits what is by far the most fun shot of the day. Johnson has to match it, but misses it really short by several feet, and gets a “G”
  • Durant goes far left, a good 12+ feet behind the right-side three-point elbow. A fun attempt, but misses.
  • Mayo misses again a one-handed 3 pointer from the left elbow.
  • Johnson tries a running floater from the free-throw line but misses it.
  • Durant misses from the top of the key off the glass.
  • Mayo hits a left-handed jumper from a few feet behind the left side of the free throw line. Johnson tries to match it but shoots and airball, getting his second letter “G-E”
  • Durant drives and tries to bounce it off the backboard, catch and spin. He misses. Awful.
  • Mayo misses a bank 3 poin shot from the right side.
  • Johnson, starting from the left side, drives and puts in a between the legs reverse layup with the right hand. Durant, who looks asleep, misses it, and now has 4 letters “G-E-I-C”
  • Mayo drives down the left, taps the backboard on the left side with the ball, then reverses it for a layup on the right side. Johnson and Durant easily matches it.
  • Mayo tries again a sitting-down bank shot from a few feet outside of the right paint, but misses.
  • Johnson walks down the middle of the paint while spinning the ball on his middle finger, and tries to flick in a layup, but misses.
  • Durant misses a long three-point sitting on the scorer’s table.
  • Mayo misses a left-handed 2 point shot from the top of the key.
  • Johnson goes all the way up in the announcer’s booth high up behind the basket and tries a nearly impossible over the backboard shot which misses.
  • Durant goes behind the backboard on the right side, flips the ball off the back of the backboard, runs and jumps, catches it and flips in a left-handed layup. Mayo manages to match it. Johnson comes close, but misses, getting 3 letters “G-E-I”
  • Durant hits a three-pointer from the right elbow. Mayo misses it, getting his first letter, “G”
  • Johnson tries his earlier shot again, walking down the paint while spinning the ball on his finger, but he shoots too strong.
  • Durant hits a three from the left elbow. Mayo matches it, but Johnson misses, and now has “G-E-I-C”
  • Durant goes behind that scorer’s table 10+ feet behind the three-point elbow on the right side, and drills an awesome shot. He’s finally awake! Mayo tries to match but doesn’t come close, and now has “G-E”
  • Johnson misses a long three-point from the right.
  • Durant misses a three-point from the left side, just outside the court.
  • Mayo misses an Rick Barry’s underhanded free throw.
  • Johnson shoots an eyes-closed free throw, comes close, but misses.
  • Durant goes right baseline, drives, tosses it off the side of the backboard, tries to catch for a reverse layup, but misses.
  • Mayo, from the right elbow, shoots a one-leg, one-hand shot. It banks in, but he didn’t call it, so the other players can swish or bank it, whatever they want. Johnson, facing elimination, hits it! So does Durant! That was sweet.
  • Mayo again tries his Rick Barry-style underhand free throw. Johnson, who said he had no experience with that shot, airballed it, and is eliminated, with “G-E-I-C-O”
  • Durant hits a three-pointer from the right elbow. Mayo misses and now has “G-E-I”
  • Durant hits another three from the top of the key. Mayo matches.
  • Durant another three, from the left corner. It bounces three times on the rim, then goes in. Mayo misses badly, hitting the side of the backboard. Both players now have “G-E-I-C”
  • Durant hits another three, from the left corner. At this point he’s hitting outside shots like layups. Mayo misses and now has “H.O.R.S.E.” Game over, Kevin Durant wins!

2010 HORSE Contest 

  • Kevin Durant repeated championship thanks to his great long range shooting.
  • As the TNT broadcast announced that the time for the contest was finishing, Durant and Rondo only had two letters. The rules said that they would have to do a “sudden death round” shooting 3-pointers from the top of the key until someone missed 3 attempts.
  • At this point, Rondo made 9-12, but Durant was unstoppable with a 11-12 good shots.
Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder6-9215H-O
Rajon RondoBoston Celtics6-1171H-O
Omri CasspiSacaramento Kings6-9225H-O-R-S-E

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