ESPN and Marvel Debut First-Ever Marvel-Inspired ‘NBA Special Edition’ Tonight

Viewers who tune in to watch tonight’s NBA match-up between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes will enjoy an alternate presentation that can only be described as “super.” The special telecast, NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes, represents a groundbreaking collaboration between ESPN and Marvel and it promises to be a heroic event, the likes of which neither basketball fans nor Marvel fans have ever seen before.

ESPN and Marvel have collaborated on sports content before, but tonight’s exclusive alternate presentation is truly unique. The broadcast is driven by an original Marvel storyline and features iconic characters, such as Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange, whose heroic presence will be felt throughout the live game via 3D virtual characters, custom graphics, animation packages and more.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will assemble for tonight’s broadcast, which begins at 7:30 p.m. ET, following an ominous threat from an enemy. Needing to expand their ranks, the Avengers look to Earth’s greatest athletes—specifically the NBA elite—to join them. The battle on the court between the Warriors and the Pelicans marks the beginning of their recruitment process, which will include a series of contests where the winner earns the right to train and fight alongside the Avengers as Marvel’s Champion. 

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

Over the course of the game, the Avengers will focus on three star players from each team: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins from the Golden State Warriors and Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans. In addition to the points the players score on the court, they’ll also gain Marvel Hero points for their performance and achievements such as rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Marvel Hero points will be deducted, however, for every missed field goal, free throw or turnover. 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. Discover all the exciting details in the video below:

The telecast will also include a special interview with Anthony Mackie as he talks about ​being a New Orleans Pelicans fan and the groundbreaking Marvel Studios The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series and his recent journey to becoming Captain America. Plus during halftime, catch a Special Look at Marvel Studios’ new series Loki, streaming exclusively on Disney+ this June.

Tonight’s game also marks ESPN’s second live NBA game on ESPN+. ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, campus. Additionally, the special presentation will include commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angélique Roché.

The traditional telecast of the Warriors vs. Pelicans game will be exclusive in the New Orleans market and will air simultaneously on ESPN. Dave Pasch will call the action with analyst Vince Carter and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth on site in New Orleans. Both the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes alternate presentation and the traditional game telecast will stream via the ESPN App.

“We’re eager for fans to experience this unique, innovative presentation that will pair Marvel and ESPN’s exceptional storytelling and production,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “We are proud to showcase the ‘larger than life’ abilities of these NBA stars in a manner in which only Disney and Marvel can deliver.”