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The Basketball Game That Promises Very Little: Ted Cruz Vs. Jimmy Kimmel


The NBA season ended last week once more without B.J. Leiderman, who composes our theme music, playing the national anthem. But there's still one basketball game to be played. Stephen Becker of member station KERA reports on how a late-night talk show host and a senator from Texas will settle their affairs on the court.

STEPHEN BECKER, BYLINE: It all started when Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a picture of himself courtside for Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. His hometown Houston Rockets were trying to keep the Warriors from getting to the NBA Finals. The Rockets lost, which prompted talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to mock the senator on Twitter, saying he looked like a, quote, "blobfish." Cruz, a basketball benchwarmer in high school, said in an interview with KERA he wasn't taking the loss lying down.

TED CRUZ: And so I sent a tweet. I said, all right, big guy, you talk a good game. You have besmirched my support for the Houston Rockets. Let's settle this man to man - one-on-one hoops.

BECKER: During a broadcast of his nightly show, Kimmel said he was in.


JIMMY KIMMEL: I immediately went online and googled how to guard a blobfish and then...


KIMMEL: ...I went on Twitter and I wrote back, I like this idea. I'll accept on one condition - we both wear very short shorts, which will be great, right?

BECKER: Wrong, said Cruz.

CRUZ: I laughed out loud and I tweeted back. I said, listen - I said, as Borat demonstrated conclusively, nobody wants to see that. You dress yourself. I'll dress myself. He then came back again and said, crop tops, to which I said, knock yourself out.

BECKER: So it's settled. The late night host and the junior senator from Texas will square off this afternoon on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston. It's like LeBron versus Steph minus the skill.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It's American versus Canadian, baller versus blobfish, Kimmel versus Cruz - the blobfish basketball classic.

BECKER: Cruz isn't guaranteeing victory, but he can make one promise.

CRUZ: Under no circumstances will Kimmel dunk on me. If he goes up to dunk, I'll pull his shorts to the ground rather than let him get to the rim.

BECKER: So for once in this era of partisan sniping, the shots between Hollywood and Washington will be taken on the basketball court. For NPR News, I'm Stephen Becker. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.