Apr 20, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) brings the ball up court against Brooklyn Nets during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

We probably should have seen this coming after last week’s Daily Wager-themed broadcast of Nets-76ers, but ESPN is going back to the alternate broadcast well for an NBA game.

This time, the featured game will be Warriors-Pelicans in two Mondays (May 3rd), and the broadcast style will be….Marvel-themed?

Yes, the Disney corporate synergy machine will be in overdrive for this broadcast, available on both ESPN2 and ESPN+ (with the standard broadcast airing on ESPN).

Three players from each team (Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins from Golden State, and Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball from New Orleans) will earn “Marvel Hero Points” for positive things they do on the court, with the player who accrues the most Hero Points for the winning team being named “champion.”

Okay then!

I’m just going to block quote some chunks from the ESPN release here, because I have no idea what’s going on.

The latest development in Marvel and ESPN’s long history of sports content collaboration, the telecast will integrate elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game, including 3D virtual characters, custom graphics and animation packages.

After a narrow victory over an invading alien army, the Avengers receive an ominous threat from the enemy who vows to return in greater numbers and force. The Black Panther and Iron Man quickly realize they will need more help and form a plan to expand their ranks to fight this impending threat. Recognizing the superior physical abilities, agility, and tenacity of Earth’s greatest athletes, the Avengers will hold a series of contests where the winners earn the right to train and fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions! The Avengers will begin their recruitment with the NBA elite and observe the battle between the Warriors and the Pelicans, focusing on three star players from each team.


Fans will be able to follow along as these athletes are put to the test, gaining Marvel Hero points for their achievements and performance during the game. The player with the most Marvel Hero points on the winning team will be crowned as Marvel’s first Champion following the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes.


ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Additionally, the special presentation will include commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angélique Roché.

ESPN and Marvel have teamed up several times in the past, but this definitely feels like the most visible example of the two entities combining forces that I can remember.

I’m not gonna make some sort of definitive statement on this, because I am about as far away from the target market as you can get.

There are going to be a whole lot of confused fans out there in a week and a half. I’m looking forward to that more than the game.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.