Ted Cruz and Jimmy Kimmel bumbled, stumbled and sweated their way to an epically ugly display of basketball on Monday night's episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" -- and while Cruz came out on top, in the end both stars' charities were the winners.
Kimmel challenged the Texas senator to a game of basketball after taking a shot at him on Twitter comparing his photo to a blobfish. The photo, taken at a Houston Rockets game, prompted the game, which became known as The Blobfish Classic. The one-on-one contest was held Saturday at Texas Southern University in Houston, but aired Monday night -- about the time both men had regained their breath.
"Just like a blobfish, the game was sloppy and within moments we were gasping for air," Kimmel said Monday night on his show. "We played one on one. It took almost an hour to get to six points -- which would be a lot if this was a World Cup soccer game. But it was not."
Cruz, 47, who is three years younger than the talk-show host, jumped out to an early, 4-2, lead before a much-needed timeout was called -- sweat already pouring down both men's faces.
Kimmel, who was coached by University of Virginia great Ralph Sampson, fought back, though. He rallied for a 6-5 lead on a deep hook shot, earning applause from the 7-foot-4 two-time Naismith College Player of the Year.
The game, originally scheduled to go to 15, was thankfully shortened to first to 11 points "in the spirit of bipartisanship," Kimmel said.
"We should have played to 11," Kimmel said early in the game. "True," Cruz responded. "We should have played to 4," Kimmel countered.
The game stood knotted at 7-7 before Cruz took control with a critical 3-0 stretch that would eventually prove to be the difference.
Kimmel made one last charge, pulling to 10-9 before the fateful final possession. Cruz chucked up a deep shot that barely caught the backboard. He rebounded the ball with ease, but was blocked by Kimmel on a layup attempt. The game ended with a prayer by Cruz on a deep jumper -- "jumper" being a generous term -- from just inside the 3-point line.
While the loser was supposed to donate $5,000 to the charity of the winner's choice, the pair decided in the end to each donate $10,000 to their charities.
Both are terrific charities & you can support their work below.
Texas Children's Hospital: https://t.co/qtF1BnAvLI
Generation One: https://t.co/w1DSdwizi1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 14, 2018
Cruz played for the poverty-fighting Generation One Texas charity while Kimmel supported the Texas Children's Hospital, where his newborn son underwent multiple heart procedures. Kimmel's Facebook fundraiser added another $13,975 in charity to the hospital. Cruz's Facebook page raised an additional $6,174 for Generation One.
The two donated in the spirit of bipartisanship, but they continued their political battle. They broke from the game at the 7-7 point to have a quick, indecisive battle on health care.
Kimmel closed the segment by encouraging viewers to vote against Cruz.
"You don't have to play basketball against him," Kimmel said Monday. "You can vote against him. And for me I promise, I will make one promise, I will never, ever play basketball again."