Echo Fox players in a younger generation might not remember much about Fox, who at age 47 has said of being 6-foot-7, “It’s more than just height.” Fox can still play basketball, and he told WWG last month that nevertheless his esports players have challenged him to one-on-one in basketball. “Yeah a lot of my players do,” Fox said. “A lot of them are too young actually, so they don’t really know Rick Fox the basketball player. They respect the Lakers. They respect the championships. But they for some reason — maybe it’s the gray hair — they think they can just take me. I don’t know what it is. It’s like riding a bike. Put a basketball in my hands, and it’s going to be second nature.”
The NBA has enlisted 17 of its 30 teams to participate in the upcoming NBA 2K League, a joint project between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, it was announced Thursday morning. The NBA 2K league will debut in 2018, and will feature the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Each team has agreed to participate for three years, worth about $750,000 per team, sources told ESPN.com.
Eric Smith: The NBA just announced its inaugural season for the NBA 2K esports league. 17 teams set to debut in 2018! I’m officially old; I don’t get it
Much like the NBA, the NBA 2K eLeague will feature head-to-head competition between its 17 teams and an extended schedule that includes a regular season, bracketed playoff system and championship matchup. But instead of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the rest of the Blazers’ starting lineup, five yet-to-be-determined professional eSports players will don virtual red and black uniforms featuring the Blazers’ iconic pinwheel logo.
The five professional gamers will play as user-created avatars that feature their likeness and compete against other five-person teams that include the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks.
This competition will not only be broadcast live, most likely on the video-streaming site Twitch, but also played in front of live crowds. By jumping into the next layer of sports and gaming competition — one that extends beyond the boundaries of the traditional sports landscape — the NBA hopes to broaden its appeal to a new segment of fans that might not ordinarily be drawn to basketball.
It’s unclear how the five representatives of each NBA team will be selected and the logistics of where and how often teams will play are not yet resolved. But this much is certain: eSports are coming to Portland and the participants will wear Blazers uniforms.