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First ever NBA Finals virtual reality highlight packages will be free to fans


You are not Drake. You will not be sitting courtside when the NBA Finals tip-off Thursday.

However, you can get the perspective of being courtside for every Finals game through a unique virtual reality highlight package available for free to fans this year.

“This is the first time ever, the NBA has done a full slate of highlights for the Finals like this,” said Danny Keens, Vice President of Content at the NBA’s virtual reality partner NextVR told NBC Sports. “And it’s available globally, for anyone with a VR headset.”

NextVR worked with the NBA to produce one game a week this past NBA season in virtual reality — the NBA was the first professional sports league to do that. They did the same thing with the All-Star Saturday night events. Next VR brings special cameras to the game — there will be six at the NBA Finals — ones that are located courtside or on the stanchion behind the basket. The result is the view usually reserved for the one percent — the world’s greatest athletes pushing the ball up court or seeming to crash right into your lap as they attack the rim or throw down a monster dunk.

It works like all VR does — if LeBron James drives and kicks it to Kevin Love in the corner for a three, you turn your head to follow the ball and the field of vision pans with you.

“The incredible thing about watching sports in VR is fans are stepping into the TV to watch the content, removing the fourth wall as it were and unlocking the screen,” Keens said. “It’s a transformational change in how people can watch the game...

“We saw our audiences continued to surge as we went throughout the year, but it’s also that the broadcasts got better as the year went on. We learned a lot in our first year.”

Now there will be a specially-produced highlight package for each NBA Finals game that fans can download and watch the following morning — complete with its own play-by-play calls (not the national broadcast, the VR package has its own team calling the plays). You may well have watched the games, or at least seen the conventional highlights, but this will change the perspective of what you witnessed — just how deep Stephen Curry took a three or just how fast Kyrie Irving was end-to-end with the ball.

To watch requires a Google Daydream View or Samsung GearVR headset, along with a compatible smartphone. Then just download the free NextVR app from the Google Play Store for Daydream or the Oculus Store on GearVR users. There is a special NBA Finals channel now in the NextVR app where the highlight packages will be.

“What’s great about our technology is it transports the fans to these really great seats,” Keens said.

It’s not quite a courtside seat, but it’s the next best thing, and you get to do it from the privacy of your own home.