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The first live basketball since March? It will be next month’s The Basketball Tournament, airing on ESPN

SHARE The first live basketball since March? It will be next month’s The Basketball Tournament, airing on ESPN
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Team Utah small forward Terrence Drisdom (1) shoots around Eberlein Drive power forward Pape Malik Dime during the third quarter of Game 1 in The Basketball Tournament at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Colter Peterson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Live basketball on ESPN is only 23 days away.

On Thursday, The Basketball Tournament and sports broadcast leader announced every game from the 2020 TBT event, which runs from July 4-14, will be televised on an ESPN network.

TBT, the winner-take-all, 5-on-5 summer event that features former college and pro stars with a $1 million prize at stake this year, is heading into its seventh season and will be the first live basketball in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic.

“Being the first basketball event to play in the U.S. since mid-March is a monumental task that is only possible with great partners.” — TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar

This year’s TBT competition will feature 24 teams playing at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, in a single-elimination tournament. Due to coronavirus regulations, the teams will arrive in Columbus five days before the competition begins, go through numerous rounds of COVID-19 testing and any positive test from a team member will eliminate an entire team.

“Being the first basketball event to play in the U.S. since mid-March is a monumental task that is only possible with great partners,” TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar said in apress release. “We can’t thank the state of Ohio, Columbus Sports Commission or the Ohio State University enough for helping guide us. We also wouldn’t be here without ESPN, Puma and Zelle. Everyone is unified in wanting to see athletes out there having fun again, and our players can’t wait to compete.”

TBT came to Utah last year, with the Maverik Center in West Valley City serving as a host to one of the tournament’s regionals. In years past, former Utah college stars like Jimmer Fredette, Brandon Davies, Dakarai Tucker, Tim Drisdom, Shaun Green and Ronnie Price have played in the tournament.

Team applications for this year’s event are being accepted through June 15, with the 24-team field being announced the next day. Of the more than 120 teams who have already applied for the 2020 tournament, former Jazzman and seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson is on the Overseas Elite roster, while former West Jordan High and Utes star Jordan Loveridge is on the Kimchi Express roster.

The 2020 tournament is the first of a three-year, multi-platform rights contract extension between TBT and ESPN.

“TBT is one of the most unique and competitive events on our schedule with former college and NBA players playing everyday athletes for a big prize,” Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling, said in a press release. “The excitement surrounding TBT continues to grow, particularly among younger viewers on ESPN, and we are proud to continue our association with TBT while offering even more exposure of this summer’s event with fans yearning for the return of live sports.”