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Illustrating Our Heroes: ESPN And Marvel’s Long History Of Partnerships

Tonight's Marvel's Arena of Heroes NBA Warriors at Pelicans telecast on ESPN platforms is the latest in imaginative collaborations

ESPN’s latest collaboration with Marvel is the first-ever exclusive, Marvel-inspired alternate NBA game presentation, NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes. The telecast tonight will integrate an original storyline, iconic characters, custom graphics, and animation packages into the game between the Golden State Warriors and host New Orleans Pelicans.

ESPN commentators and Marvel fans Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary for the alternate presentation. Marvel expert Angélique Roché will also provide commentary and analysis.

The telecast will include a special interview with actor Anthony Mackie as he talks about ​being a Pelicans fan. He’s the star of the groundbreaking Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Disney+ series. He portrays The Falcon, who becomes the new Captain America. During halftime, catch a special look at Marvel Studios’ new series, Loki, streaming exclusively on Disney+ this June.

NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes starts Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes with the traditional game telecast on ESPN. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room. Check out the video below.

ESPN and Marvel have a long history of collaboration, illustrating the larger-than-life characteristics of sports heroes for fans across platforms. Below are some highlights of ESPN and Marvel projects through the years.


2006 — ESPN and Marvel collaborated for the This is SportsCenter: Captain Carmelo spot, featuring Steve Levy, Carmelo Anthony, and the superhero-clad Scott Van Pelt and Neil Everett.


2010 — ESPN The Magazine teamed up with Marvel’s artists to produce 30 “variant covers” illustrating each NBA team and its 2010-2011 outlook for the season.


2011 — Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment and a sports fan, visited ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus as part of ESPN’s Newsmaker speaker series. Quesada talked with employees and discussed his career, plus the synergy between the two Walt Disney Company divisions.

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

2014 — ESPN and Marvel collaborated to create the College Football comic book covers, an annual tradition showcasing major games such as Kickoff Weekend and the College Football Playoff in Marvel fashion with mascots from each team in action.

A 2017 cover

2015 — The women of ESPNW’s “Impact25,” a list recognizing those making the biggest mark on women in sports, were illustrated as Marvel heroes, creating a “super-vision” of heroes, including U.S. Women’s National Team star Carli Lloyd alongside popular Marvel Super Hero, Captain Marvel.


2018 — Boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko toured Marvel Studios ahead of his historic Top Rank on ESPN bout versus Jose Pedraza.

(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

2021 — ESPN and Marvel Entertainment partnered again for the 2021 NFL Draft, designing custom comic book covers depicting seven Draft prospects – Najee Harris, Trevor Lawrence, Azeez Ojulari, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Kwity Paye, DeVonta Smith, and Zach Wilson. The covers feature Marvel themes that pay homage to original Marvel Comics covers while promoting the NFL Draft.


2021— ESPN and Marvel launched the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation for the Golden State Warriors versus New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball will be put to the test to be crowned Marvel’s first Champion.

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