We’ve all wondered what it’s like to be in the NBA, soar through the air and dunk sending fans into a frenzy, sink a baseline 3 with the games defining moments at hand, and even traveling around the country with your team competing for the ultimate prize. However, the clear majority of us lacking the size, skill, and ability to do so at that level. This is an experience lost on the average person until now, with the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League underway just over 100 eSport athletes are invoking and partaking in part of that NBA history. A new chapter for the NBA and its fans, breeding new excitement, interest, and drama sure to come. This league is just getting started and already has more attention associated around it then when the NBA originally began in 1946. The celebrities in this sport walk our streets relatively unnoticed but they too like NBA players have perfected their craft on countless hours of gaming and practice. Not knowing that they would one day be associated with and an extension of the most exclusive league in modern history.
These athletes aren’t getting paid like celebrities, although they have the chance to make a decent living if their team is successful. They are getting a chance to play the game they love and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Helping develop and further the games reach and ability to draw in new and passionate fans to the NBA and world of basketball. When we asked Austin Painter (BooPainter 25.8 PPG PF, Wizards DG) “There’s 102 of us out there as a community now, that has to do whatever we can each and every one of us to make sure were growing the game as a whole, the players who get retained after this season need to make sure their second year is better than their first in a sense of helping grow and expand the game”. This is something that is important for the game of basketball and 2K to continue to grow and reach new heights. Being a part of history however also doesn’t seem to affect Boo “I don’t really see it as pressure, were just doing something we love to do and now that were being paid it gives us more motivation to go out there”.
These athletes are living their dreams while getting an opportunity to make a living and get exposure playing a game they grew up loving and playing for hours on end just to do it. Now these very athletes are invoking on a new path and journey for the NBA and its fans. BooPainter “It’s a blessing from being drafted by my home city, where my actual apartment is 30 minutes outside of DC and to be on the bottom floor of this league as I know it’ll only keep growing” Others in the NBA 2K community were fortunate for different reasons, Supreme Puller (SF for Magic Gaming) talked about Moving from Chicago to Orlando with his fiance and going from working 50-60 weeks painting and doing demolition to now playing on of his favorite video games every day for his job is an experience he never dreamed of. These eSports athletes are not only writing their own new chapters but are partaking in a new chapter of the NBA itself, becoming associated with one of the greatest leagues in history.
The pressure is something they aren’t feeling while flying from city to city and partaking on this journey with a future not foretold. Getting to stay in nice hotels and be flown around the country to compete against other NBA 2K teams is just one of the many perks that the players enjoy. When we asked Supreme Puller about some of the perks he stated “The Practice Facility is pretty LIT “. These athletes are getting the experience of a lifetime while being on the biggest stage of their life, something many of us only dream to experience, Supreme Puller had that same dream “I get to do what I love to do ON THE BIGGEST STAGE! Doesn’t get much better than that, I always wanted to be in the NBA and this is as close as I’ll get, It’s fun too strategize and try to expose the other team’s weaknesses.” While speaking to Austin Painter he took it one step further getting into some of the defensive match-ups and key games they have coming up the rest the regular season.
These game plans will be put to the test as the League has already been put on notice by the blazers that they are the team to beat. Their best player and leader even stated, “No one can beat us except ourselves”. The Blazers look prime to be a part of history as the first ever NBA 2K League Champion, we asked BooPainter his thoughts on how they can stop the Blazers from going undefeated (if they win their next 4 games between now and then) he replied “I feel like were one of the teams that can actually stop them, Shotz (Dat Boy Shotz 22.1PPG) is a big factor in how good their team plays and if you limit him you can have a chance to win. We will have a good matchup with him as I’ll be matched up with him, and will try and take away what he does best” The first season isn’t even over and while it’ll be interesting to see the rest the way if anyone can stop the Blazers three headed monster, athletes may not be feeling the weight of history or responsibility they all share but one thing is for sure, there lives and NBA 2K will never be the same.
Bilal Almashni “Supreme Puller” and I discussed the possibility of 2K helping fans get a closer experience to the NBA and that of what the 2K athletes are getting to experience now. I asked him what he thought about being able to connect your My Career with friends and compete in the same NBA seasons as them. “yeah I have been saying that since 2K11 bro, it would be fun, and it wouldn’t feel like the same thing all the time” Getting to compete against your friends for league MVP, ROY, and the NBA championship would add a new fan experience to the game and give 2K fans the opportunity to further their love for the game. I discussed with both athletes, various ways that the game could be taken to further heights and they can draw more attention to the league. With the NBA 2K leagues first season at it’s midway point we’re halfway through a historic season not just for the NBA and its fans but for each of these athletes. Helping Bring NBA fans into the eSports realm and giving fans something else to cheer for during the offseason, besides what offseason changes your team makes. However, one thing through all of this is certain, the game may never be the same.
If you want to listen to the full conversation between me and Austin Painter click the link below and Fast Forward to (32:41)