• AFP-Jiji, Reuters

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NBA fans starved for action amid the shut-down forced by the coronavirus pandemic will get a taste of competition in an NBA 2K Players Tournament starting Friday.

The NBA, the NBA Players Association and game-maker 2K announced the tournament, which will be aired in the United States on ESPN over 10 days.

Kevin Durant may have been sidelined all season as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon, but the Brooklyn Nets star is the top seed in the 16-man field of current NBA players taking on the virtual challenge.

"This tournament offers a unique opportunity for our players to compete with one another while also supporting their philanthropic efforts and engaging with their fans," Josh Goodstadt, a representative of the players union's commercial arm, said in a statement. "We are excited to work with 2K and the NBA to bring this experience to life for the entire NBA community."

The players are seeded No. 1 to No. 16, with seeding based on their player ratings in NBA 2K20. Each player will select eight current NBA teams from which they will choose their team each round. Each player can use a team only once, and if two opponents select the same team, the away team gets first choice of team.

"The winner will be crowned the ultimate NBA 2K20 champion and select a charity beneficiary to receive a $100,000 donation from 2K, the NBA and the NBPA in support of ongoing coronavirus relief efforts," the league said.

Rising Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young is the second seed in a field that also features Portland's Hassan Whiteside, Utah's Donovan Mitchell and Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura of Japan.

The seedings are determined by a player's NBA 2K rating — Durant is a 96 — and by tenure in the league.

After single-elimination first and second rounds, the semifinals and final will be best-of-three series.

The NBA put its season on indefinite hold on March 11 after Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Teammate Mitchell, who will face Hachimura in the first round, is also among the NBA players who have tested positive, as is Durant.

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