NBA fans in the US will get their first chance to check out a live game in 4K Ultra HD on Saturday night when the Utah Jazz visit the Denver Nuggets. The broadcast will be available via DirecTV if you have the proper package and equipment (Genie HR54 DVR), as AT&T is working with NBA TV on the broadcast.
It’s as if fans who are able to watch the Tuesday night live virtual reality broadcasts of NBA games are right in the action. NextVR brought an evangelist to World’s Most Famous Arena, and it didn’t take much for most folks who tried on the Samsung Gear VR headsets to be wowed. One man noted how close he could even see the referee run right by the courtside camera. All that was missing was the breeze when that actually happens. Remarked one reporter as he watched the Knicks play against the Portland Trail Blazers through the headset, “This is the future, huh?” That is very much what the NBA hopes. “I think eventually every game is made available in some form of VR,” Jeff Marsilio, the NBA’s vice president of global media distribution, said as he added that he thought that was a few years away from happening.
Marsilio left the door open to add more games than the 25 scheduled for live VR broadcasts this season, but emphasized that efforts would be focused on the current slate of games. The NBA would not release viewership numbers. But the league is already liking the progress it sees.
Former NBA player Stephon Marbury, who now plays in China, has released Starbury Elite sneakers with soles that light up at the touch of an iPhone app and flash as they detect the beats to music. “It took me a lot of time and a lot of work,” Marbury said in a video of the seven months spent to complete the project. “We put the work in. We did everything that we needed to do for the technology before we brought it to America so that everyone would be able to use their phone to control the lights and play music.”
Iguodala said he joined the Warriors in 2013 not only because it was a team on the rise, but also because of its proximity to Silicon Valley tech companies, especially startup investing. Now he wants his basketball peers to seek similar interests. “I’m just trying to get my colleagues to understand that there is a space for us outside of our normal investing,” he said. “You normally see [players investing in] the barbershop. You see the music companies. You see a lot of real estate. You don’t see many go outside of their comfort zones. “We want to change that.”
And that’s what also prompted Iguodala and Cline Thomas to help create the National Basketball Players Association’s inaugural tech summit, which brought together current and former NBA players to network with key tech execs in San Francisco in July. Iguodala used his leverage as a vice president for the players’ union to make it happen. More than 30 players participated in the three-day event, they said. Many players came prepared like astute businessmen as they and the tech execs peppered each other with plenty of questions. “The response was amazing,” said Iguodala, converting some skeptics. “A lot of them, said, ‘Wow, we didn’t know what you meant?'” Cline Thomas added, “Some players are already investing. All it took was some exposure.”
When Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson set foot on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif., he wore the customary rainbow hat with the propeller on top. In his head on that day in July, the wheels were turning. “I think things are going to go mechanical, like the self-driving cars,” Watson said of the future. “I feel like the world is going to robots.” Watson participated in the NBA’s Career Crossover program this summer, and before the start of the season, he got an opportunity at Google to envision what the world might look like by the time the 32-year-old’s playing career comes to an end.