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Kimmel Vs. Cruz: The Late-Night Host And Texas Senator Will Settle Beef With Basketball

Kimmel and Cruz: Shutterstock
Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel (left) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (right) will play a one-on-one basketball game for charity on Saturday in Houston

Update: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel 11-9 on Saturday.

The NBA season ended last week when the Golden State Warriors claimed their second straight championship. But there’s still one very important basketball game to be played.

A late-night talk show host and a senator from Texas will settle their beef this weekend on the court.

It all started when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted a picture of himself courtside for Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. His beloved Houston Rockets were hosting the Golden State Warriors for the right to advance 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 "blobfish."

Cruz – a basketball benchwarmer in high school – said in an interview with KERA he wasn’t taking the loss lying down.

“And so I sent out a tweet. I said, ‘Alright, big guy, you talk a good game,” Cruz said. “You have besmirched my support for the Houston Rockets. Let’s settle this man-to-man: One-on-one, hoops.”

On a broadcast of his nightly talk show, Kimmel said he was in.

“So, I immediately went online and Googled ‘how to guard a blobfish.’ And then I went on Twitter and said, ‘I like this idea. I’ll accept on one condition: We both wear very short shorts. Which would be great, right?”

Wrong, said Cruz.

“I laughed out loud and I tweeted back, I said, ‘Listen, as Borat demonstrated conclusively, nobody wants to see that,” Cruz said. “‘You dress yourself, I’ll dress myself.’ He then came back again and said, ‘Crop tops?’ To which I said, ‘Knock yourself out.’”

So it’s settled. The late-night host and the junior senator from Texas will square off Saturday afternoon on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston. It’s like LeBron vs. Steph, minus the skill.

As a promo from Kimmel’s show describes the matchup: “It’s American vs. Canadian. Baller vs. blobfish. Kimmel vs. Cruz. The Blobfish Basketball Classic!”

Cruz isn’t guaranteeing victory. But he can make one promise.

“Under no circumstances will Kimmel dunk on me,” Cruz said. “If he goes up to dunk, I’ll pull his shorts to the ground rather than let him get to the rim.”

We’ll get a look at just how short those shorts are on Saturday.

If Cruz wins, Kimmel will donate to Houston-based education nonprofit Generation One. And if Kimmel wins, Cruz will write a check to the Texas Children’s Hospital.

Stephen Becker is senior producer of the Think show , which airs on more than 25 stations across Texas and beyond. Prior to joining the Think team in 2013, as part of the Art&Seek team, Stephen produced radio and digital stories and hosted "The Big Screen" — a weekly radio segment about North Texas film — with Chris Vognar. His 2011 story about the history of eight-track tapes was featured nationally on NPR's All Things Considered. His works has been recognized with numerous state and national awards.