The NBA 2K growth was in line with the broader esports industry, which drew in 485 million viewers in 2020, an 11.7% increase from 2019, according to Newzoo, while revenue rose 15.7% to $1.1 billion. “The NBA teams certainly can drive local revenue, selling partnerships, selling content, and selling merchandise,” Donohue said. “The model that exists on the NBA side for the most part carries over to the 2K side.” In three years the 2K League has inked partnerships with AT&T, Snickers, New Era Caps, Panera Bread and more.
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USA Basketball: Hello esports. We’ve arrived. USA Basketball is excited to launch the E-National Team @USABgaming, a seven-member, mixed-gender USA team that will compete versus international competition in the #FIBAesportsOpen.
Dion Waiters, professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, has invested in Miami-based esports and lifestyle brand, Centric Gaming. The organisation has told Esports Insider it aims to “make a statement”, in Waiters’ hometown of Philadelphia, that “gaming is something that is achievable as a career”. Waiters is partnering with Centric Gaming Founder Kyree Ware, who will be responsible for the organisation’s esports development.
On the investment, Waiters told Esports Insider: “Esports has always been a healthy escape for me and it is something I can see myself being a part of for a long time. I’m bringing that Champ Cheese Swag to esports!”
Last month, the Pistons partnered with a platform company called Rivals to bring esports to fans. The Pistons are launching a gaming community called Motor City Rivals, which will allow fans to compete and earn rewards points that they’ll be able to use to purchase team merchandise and other prizes.
Motor City Rivals will tip off with an NBA 2K21 Tournament on Wednesday. Fans will be able to earn various prizes, including separate $500 cash rewards to the Xbox tournament winner and PlayStation tournament winner. Fans could also play against Bruce Brown or a mystery NBA player.
Tony Parker is currently the president and majority owner of the French professional basketball team ASVEL Basket. Parker said he also started to invest in esports entities six or seven years ago. “It’s something I’ve always been interested in and curious about,” Parker said. “I started playing video games when I was young and I’ve decided to keep it a big part of my life.”
Parker also sees a lot of synergies between esports and the traditional sports. “They can grow together, but esports is its own world and can fill up stadiums just like basketball,” he said. “There’s a lot of strategy that goes into it, coaches and trainers just like a basketball team.” “If people don’t know, they have a hard time imagining it. But these are athletes that practice eight hours a day and are very committed to their sport,” he said.
EA is hosting a Madden NFL 21 tournament called The Homestand powered by ASUS this weekend featuring eight competitors, including several NBA players and an MMA fighter. The Homestand’s first round kicks off Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with a matchup between Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry and Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall. Their game will be followed by three more first-round matchups, and the tournament’s final will take place Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Esports and gaming organization FaZe Clan has announced the signing of LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. The news was posted via two FaZe Clan tweets on Sunday afternoon with one including a hype video of some of Bronny’s highlights in basketball, as well as video games, namely Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Earlier this week, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons joined FaZe Clan as a content creator under the name “FaZe Simmo”. Other athletes currently on the FaZe Clan creator roster include Pittsburgh Steelers wide received JuJu Smith-Schuster (FaZe Juju) and Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard (FaZe Hammer).
It’s rare to see a No. 1 overall draft pick winning a championship in their first year of competition. But that’s exactly what happened Friday night as the Washington Wizards-owned Wizards District Gaming won the NBA 2K League title, fueled by a stellar performance by rookie point guard John “JBM” Mascone. “I was just telling my parents I’ve been playing sports for 18 years and I’ve never been so emotional,” Mascone told ESPN after the championship.
Wizards District defeated the Golden State Warriors-owned Warriors Gaming Squad, 3-1, in the best-of-five series to claim their first championship. After Warriors Gaming won the first game, Wizards found their groove and won three straight. “We felt like we came out flat-footed, and we didn’t talk enough,” Mascone said about losing the opening game. “We were blinded by the moment. Going into these things, you try not to hype it up, but also have a sense of urgency… we found that balance starting in Game 2. Game 1 was a blessing in disguise.”
“… In a game like (NBA 2K), where you have a week before, you can’t think about anything else,” Mascone said. “I’m dreaming about this. We didn’t have any time to think going into the game against the Raptors. They were undisputedly the best team in the league. We were just better on that day.” Playoff MVP honors went to center Ryan “Dayfri” Conger. Mascone said Conger was the voice of reason for the team after losing Game 1. Conger helped reset the team’s mentality after the loss and get them back on track for the hardware.
Esports company Faze Clan announced today that two-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons has joined a Series B funding round that has yet to close. The Philadelphia 76ers star is the latest basketball player to invest in Faze Clan, following the New Orleans Pelicans’ Josh Hart, the Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard and the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray. Esports have been a hot destination for athletes to place their cash. Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez and David Beckham are among those with stakes in competitive gaming companies. European soccer stars Antoine Griezmann of Barcelona and Mesut Ozil of Arsenal have started their own esports teams.
Faze Clan was ranked by Forbes in November as the fourth-most-valuable esports company. Terms of Simmons’ investment were not disclosed. “My role with FaZe now goes much deeper than the initial investment,” says Simmons, adding that he was drawn to the company as a teenager because of its cool brand and came to believe in its family gaming culture. “I am going to bring it back to Australia and bring an international side to it. I also want to bring more kids into it.”
Misfits Gaming Group is expanding its partnership with the NBA’s Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, the three Florida-based organizations announced today. MGG has been working with the Heat in various capacities since 2018. But this expanded partnership will have all three organizations together to develop opportunities across different markets.
Both NBA teams are already committed to supporting several esports initiatives through their partnership with MGG and their individual NBA 2K teams, Heat Check Gaming and Magic Gaming. This deal will allow both teams to include all MGG properties in strategic partnership opportunities, while also providing MGG with access to other brands interested in entering the esports market.
Chris Haynes: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has partnered with startup VIZNTM Gaming, taking equity position in the Portland-based company. VIZN Gaming’s first-in-industry UltraVRTM technology plug-&-play converts the last 30 years of video games into full 360 3D Virtual Reality.
Jeff Eisenband: The @NBA2KLeague has introduced the “Command Center” on @Twitch, which allows viewers to watch both ongoing games at once. Main feed has @ScottColeShow and @Dirk_JDR’s call (going back-and-forth between games) and then each game has its own feed with game sounds. pic.twitter.com/gm7vqZv6qA
Leonsis predicts the 2K League will become a way to attract international fans. “Almost 80 percent of the appeal is gonna be outside of the U.S.,” he said. The league and ESPN announced a deal on Tuesday to broadcast this season’s games both domestically and internationally. Last year’s NBA 2K Finals, the second one ever of its kind, exceeded one million unique viewers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube, according to information the NBA provided to The Athletic. A league spokesperson denied a request for demographics of 2K viewership in different countries. “People have seen what we’ve been able to do with Team Liquid, which is the best-performing — in terms of players and prize money — team. But it’s also been a really, really great business,” Leonsis said. “And so, that’s what we think will happen here. We try to explain to everyone that there’s more people outside of the U.S. on the Internet than (there) are here and their first exposure to the NBA is probably gonna be through NBA 2K.”
The league is expanding to China. When the season begins Tuesday, it will have its first non-NBA affiliated squad: The Gen.G Tigers, located in Shanghai. It ran games on Tencent in China last season. It scheduled day games to air at primetime in Europe. The long-term goals are bigger. “We envision this being a global league,” 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue said. “We’re in the process and in our near future, we see having an Asia Pacific division, a European division of 2K League teams.”
ESPN will air live NBA 2K League matches on ESPN2 on three Tuesdays in May, the sports network announced today. It’s the first time that the NBA 2K League, which is operated by the NBA, will have matches aired live on TV in the US, according to ESPN. Some league matches will also be shown on the ESPN app and ESPN.com, depending on the day of the week and when in the season you’re watching. On Tuesdays at 7PM ET, starting today through May 19th, you can watch NBA 2K League matches on ESPN2. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7PM ET, you can watch NBA 2K League games on the ESPN app and ESPN.com. ESPN has not yet announced the broadcast schedule for games that take place beginning May 26th.
SLAM Magazine: “F*CK THIS GAME.” My boy Josh Hart stomped the hell out of his COD keyboard. 😭 pic.twitter.com/oW7G2uBaO7
Esports talent agency and brand consulting firm Rumble Gaming has partnered with Family First Sports Firm to help traditional sports athletes impact the esports and gaming markets. Founded by Chris Gaston, a player trainer/developer turned agent, Family First Sports Firm represents NBA players De’Aaron Fox and Damyean Dotson. The firm will offer “crossover representation” across traditional sports and gaming-related initiatives.
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard and New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart are taking their rivalry from the court to the battlefield, facing off in Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Warzone” for the final match of a gaming tournament raising money for pandemic relief.
Tim Reynolds: The NBA2K League will open its season May 5.
The NBA 2K Players Tournament culminated in a battle of Valley Boyz. Devin Booker defeated Deandre Ayton as two of the most prominent members of the Phoenix Suns squared off in the best-of-three final. As the champion of the tournament created in partnership by the league and NBA 2K amid the season’s suspension, Booker received $100,000 to donate to the charity helping in the fight against the coronavirus of his choice. Booker took Game 1 of the final series 72-62 using the Rockets against the Lakers. In Game 2, the guard beat his own big man 74-62 using the Nuggets against the Bucks.
There was some good-natured trash talk throughout from the teammates, which made for a fun finale. “Undefeated tournament. Thanks to 2K for putting this on. Lots of good competition out here,” Booker said after his victory. In a follow-up interview with Ronnie 2K, Booker reiterated how impressed he was with Ayton’s tournament. “I knew what Deandre was capable of. We have played in the past. He’s definitely a gamer,” Booker said.
At the end, a disgusted Patrick Beverley shed his headset and took a frustrated swipe toward the camera before leaving his gaming seat without much to say. It was one of the rare moments that the ultracompetitive LA Clippers guard was speechless. Despite being swept Saturday by Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton in the semifinals of the NBA 2K Players Tournament, Beverley exited as the star and most entertaining player of the televised video game tourney.
Jeff Eisenband: According to @NBA2K Senior VP Jason Argent, the #NBA2KTourney is “ESPN’s most-watched #esports broadcast in history.” Tournament ends tonight on @espn, but signs suggest future events are on the way (via @Andrew Greif/@latimessports). 🏀🎮 google.com/amp/s/www.lati…
Wendi Fleming was one of three women who attended the NBA 2K League Draft in February. None of them were selected. Fleming, who had been passed over in all three NBA 2K League seasons, went back home to Chattanooga, Tenn., unsure of her future with the game and community she had put so much of herself into, only to come away feeling alienated. Then, only a few weeks later, she got a call from the league asking her if she would like to participate in the tournament, which carried a $25,000 prize pool.
“It’s been exciting leading up to tonight, and I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity,” Fleming said on the eve of her first game last Wednesday. “It’s crazy how thing work out. … “I definitely feel like this is another opportunity to prove that point, to show people what they passed up on, my skill and level of play, and how I can contribute as a team player.” Though it’s an exhibition tournament with no regular season or playoff implications, the stakes were also high for current players in the league who, like their NBA counterparts, must stay sharp to fend off the thousands of people who would gladly take their place.
When Thursday night’s quarterfinals action in the NBA 2K Players Tournament wrapped up, the four players remaining come from just two NBA teams — the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. Young guns DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker, both from the Suns, won their matchups, while Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers each emerged victorious.
The semifinals begin Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The matchups are Ayton vs. Beverley and Booker vs. Harrell, providing Suns-Clippers undercurrents in both games. Interestingly enough, both pairs were the only tournament participants from the same team among the original field of 16. Ayton faced the toughest test among the semifinalists on Thursday during his battle with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. Booker cruised by Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards) in the first game and Harrell took out No. 16 seed Derrick Jones Jr., who defeated top seed Kevin Durant during the opening game of the tournament.
Q: What is it like to be involved with the operations of an NBA 2K League team in Wizards District Gaming? What would you say is the biggest difference compared to operating an NBA team? Andrew McNeill: It’s hard for me to say what the biggest difference is in being involved with Wizards District Gaming than from an NBA team because I’ve never been intimately involved in the operations of an NBA team, but I can say that working with a team in the NBA 2K League is incredibly exciting. The 2K League is a very young league with a ton of potential and I’m excited to do my small part to help it grow. And the competitor in me loves doing what I can to help put a team out there that can compete for championships in the 2K League. It’s really a great situation.
Chris Haynes: Sources: Clarity, it will be a 16-player NBA 2K tournament lasting 10 days. 4-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins among the participants.
The league hopes to launch the event Friday, with the 16-player tournament lasting 10 days and including Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell and four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, among other big-name players, sources said.
Tomer Azarly: The Clippers’ gamer is all but likely going to be Paul George.
Mobile-centric esports organisation Tribe Gaming has closed its seed funding round, raising over $1 million (£831,680). Boston Celtics player Gordon Hayward was part of the round, alongside WWE pro wrestler Claudio “Cesaro” Castagnoli. They will serve as strategic advisors to the organisation along with others who contributed.
Tyler Erzberger of ESPN interviewed Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward on his Twitch stream and asked him who was more toxic, NBA players or League of Legend (LoL) players. Without hesitation, Hayward answered LoL players. “Dude, definitely League players. 100,000% League players, man. League of Legends players are so toxic, I can’t imagine being on a team in the NBA where they are as toxic as they are in League of Legends. Like if you missed a 3-pointer or something, everyone on the team starts flaming you.”
The Miami Heat were at least able to pick up some sort of victory while the NBA is suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. On Saturday, Heat forward Meyers Leonard led his team to a victory in a Call of Duty tournament for NBA players. The match was broadcast on Twitch, a live streaming platform for gamers. Leonard teamed with NBAers Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine, Mario Hezonja and high school player Bronny James, son of LeBron James. They defeated a team comprised of Josh Hart, Ben Simmons and Royce O’Neale and high school player Terrence Clarke.
While he continues to rehabilitate his ACL tear from last summer, DeMarcus Cousins will be spending some time on the esports side of the competitive scene working with NRG. The signing didn’t specify whether Cousins will be making content, but it also doesn’t show him joining a specific subsidiary of the organization.
NRG billed the Cousins signing as the team’s “biggest” signing ever, likely playing into the fact that Cousins is 6’10” and will dwarf anyone he appears on screen or on stage with. More information about how this partnership came about will be revealed in the coming weeks as Cousins starts to play games with the pros.
Zach Lowe: E-sports, too: the NBA 2K League is expected to announce tonight that it is postponing the start of its season, which had been scheduled to begin on March 24. The league and 2K are working closely to see if it is possible to play games remotely, source says.
Esports and traditional sports will collide Saturday as the Chicago Huntsmen Call of Duty League franchise will face off against a team of NBA All-Stars in a Pros vs. Pros match to coincide with NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
While the NBA players to compete haven’t been announced, they could include Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid — all of whom are known to be esports fans. NBA 2k19 cover star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks also could take part.
The league, a professional esports venture featuring the top NBA 2K players in the world, is the first one operated by a U.S. professional sports league. Twenty-three of the NBA’s 30 franchises sport a team. The Suns are not one of them. Many, including Suns star Devin Booker, would like to see that change. “That would be dope,” Booker said. “I’ve been paying attention. Getting a team in the city would be real nice.”
G2 Esports announced today that billionaire Joseph Tsai, an Alibaba cofounder and the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, had made a $10 million investment in the company to become a minority owner. G2 also said it would open a New York office shortly after the new year.
A professional gaming team owned by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks is getting blasted by artists for holding a design contest without a cash prize and telling graphic designers to “get a job” when they asked for compensation for their work. On November 11, Bucks Gaming took to Twitter to ask artists to design a new header image for the team, offering up free merchandise and credit in the team’s profile description to the winner. Some people expressed interest in the contest, but several designers replied with joke designs and called for the team to pay artists for professional work.
The Milwaukee Bucks franchise is valued at $1.35 billion, according to Forbes. “The Bucks are a large brand, they can afford to pay people, and they already probably have a design team,” a designer who preferred to stay anonymous told Business Insider. “Of course, people can choose to enter the contest out of passion, but in general, it’s good practice to pay people expect monetary compensation for your hard work.”
Former NBA player and embattled esports franchise owner Rick Fox filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles County court Tuesday, accusing his business partners with the esports franchise Echo Fox of multiple instances of fraud and seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages. The lawsuit comes as those same partners are attempting to remove Fox from the video gaming franchise he founded.
The civil suit by Fox follows legal action in August from one of his partners, former San Jose Sharks co-owner and VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos, who failed in his attempt to get a temporary restraining order issued against Fox. In that attempt, Sclavos and other signatories affiliated with Echo Fox accused the former Celtic and Laker of “willful, wanton, and intentionally destructive efforts toward the Partnership,” according to that complaint.
In a marriage of traditional sports and esports, Utah Jazz basketball star Rudy Gobert has invested in ReKTGlobal, a global esports group and parent of the esports club Rogue.
Gobert, the NBA’s two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year and current center for the team, is joining a hefty ownership team. Gobert will join alongside existing investors including DJ stars Steve Aoki and DJ Nicky Romero, the Billboard Award-winning Imagine Dragons, and renowned Latin music producer Tainy. That’s a pretty good bunch of celebrities who probably know something the rest of us don’t.
The round was led by Dignitas’ controlling shareholders — Sixers parent company Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, based in Camden, and Houston-based Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of the Houston Rockets. New institutional investors Susquehanna Private Equity Investments and global hospitality company Delaware North also participated in the round.
Misfits Gaming and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment have acquired slots in the upcoming Call of Duty franchise league, Activision Blizzard Esports announced on Tuesday. Misfits Gaming landed the Florida slot, while Kroenke purchased a Los Angeles slot. Each paid $25 million for a franchise, according to published reports.
The Kroenke family owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche among other teams. They also own the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League.
In March, Evans became the first woman drafted into the NBA 2K League, joining not only the fray of gamers who have to prove that what they do constitutes sports, but also the bevy of women in gaming and sports at large who have to prove that they simply belong. A Chicago native who played basketball from AAU up to college and semi-pro, Evans has had to face and overcome the kind of roadblocks you’d expect from two industries that tend to treat women as outsiders.
More than five months after being drafted and with more than enough validation from her league and teammates, Evans has learned to take the hate in stride. “It’s still there. It’s going to always be there. That’s something that you can’t change,” she told The Athletic during the first round of the NBA 2K League playoffs last week. “I can’t quit or give up just because a few people who obviously have problems with themselves, they’re bothering me. I can’t let them get to me and ruin who I am and you know my goal as a 2K player. I will say one thing that keeps me moving and keeps me going is the positivity and the support outweighs the negative.”
That landscape might be changing, if at a snail’s pace, aided in part by efforts to create women-only leagues and tournaments and raise awareness about the level of vitriol women gamers face. But while women supporting women is important, siloing them away from the mainstream gaming world isn’t the answer, especially with women fans representing a growing share of esports fans. According to market researcher Interpret, 30 percent of esports watchers are women, a 6.5 percent increase from 2016. As a woman in a man’s league, Evans is experiencing these shifts first hand. “I get inboxed all the time from a lot of women that I’m an inspiration. A lot of women who play 2K now, when they get into the 2K League, they’re gonna get better to improve their games,” she said. “I get messages from a lot of guys, too, but definitely a lot of women, a lot of younger females.”
And yet, gaming kind of is his day job now. Sheppard, a 50-year-old hoops lifer, was tapped this week to run an esports franchise. In the recent creation of Monumental Basketball, under which the four basketball-related properties owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment will operate, Sheppard has been tasked as the general manager of the Wizards, their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, and most curiously, Wizards District Gaming of the NBA 2K League. Though Sheppard is in discovery mode about his role with the esports franchise, which recently completed its second season in a video game league that has drawn more than 293 million video views across social media platforms, his attention will be mostly focused outside the virtual world.
“The opportunity with basketball with the Wizards, the Go-Go, District Gaming is fantastic to me because if you think about the explosion of esports, that’s something I’m getting my arms around, I can’t wait to be part of it,” Sheppard said of the NBA 2K League, the first professional esports operation run by one of the four major American sports leagues. “But my focus is the Washington Wizards and the Go-Go right now because that is our core business that needs the most help.”
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, owner of Arsenal, the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Gladiators, has agreed to a deal that will see it acquire Echo Fox’s League of Legends Championship Series slot for $30.25 million, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN. The deal is pending Riot Games’ approval and comes after the expiration of a Monday deadline set by Riot that put Echo Fox, which was cofounded by three-time NBA champion Rick Fox, in jeopardy of losing their League of Legends Championship Series slot, as reported by ESPN on Friday. Since the weekend, Echo Fox has scrambled to strike a deal with a suitor.
Former pro basketball star Rick Fox is close to a sale of his esports company, according to people with knowledge of the matter, after one of his partners used a racial slur. A deal for Echo Fox could be announced Monday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Los Angeles-based Echo Fox fields a team playing in the North America League of Legends Championship Series. Fox, 49, may leave as part of a deal, they said.
Jeff Eisenband: The @NBA2KLeague is leaving NYC for the second time. “The Ticket” will be June 13-15 in Orlando at @FullSail’s new esports arena, “The Fortress.” The arena opened last month and this will be its “first major event.” 🎮🏀🌴 @orlandosentinel @marcosantana orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz…
Magic Gaming and locally-owned and operated Papa John’s in Central Florida will team up for a first-of-its-kind partnership in the NBA 2K League offering fans a winning combination – the Papa John’s MGWIN promotion. The promotion offers Central Florida fans 50 percent off their regular menu price online order the day after any Magic Gaming victory when they enter the promo code ‘MGWIN’ at PapaJohns.com. The Papa John’s MGWIN offer will be available for all Magic Gaming matchups during the 2019 NBA 2K League season. Magic Gaming plays again Wednesday, May 15 when they take on Pistons GT. The game will be livestreamed on the league’s Twitch channel. Magic Gaming has played five of its 16 regular season games and currently stands at 2-3 (4-2 in tournament play).
Ronnie 2K: The Warriors are winning in the physical world and digital! Congrats @WarriorsGaming @Warriors for being The Turn @NBA2KLeague champions! pic.twitter.com/yjinlLdtxd
The NBA 2K League will have $1.2 million in its prize pool for the 2019 season, up $200,000 from the inaugural season last year. Players will receive a base salary of $33,000 for a six-month commitment, with up to $38,000 for players retained from the 2018 season. Meanwhile, the prize pool will be spread out over four tournaments and the league playoffs, with $120,000 up for grabs in the season-opening “THE TIPOFF” tournament. “THE TURN” and “THE TICKET” tournaments each will have $180,000 available in prize money, while the league playoffs will be worth $720,000.
NBA legend Michael Jordan is playing the esports game now, leading a $26 million round of funding for the ownership group aXiomatic. For Jordan and new co-investor Declaration Capital — the family office investing the personal wealth of David Rubenstein, who co-founded and serves as co-executive chairman of the multi-billion-dollar private equity firm, The Carlyle Group — investing in esports looks like a slam dunk.
“I’m excited to expand my sports equity portfolio through my investment in aXiomatic. Esports is a fast-growing, international industry and I’m glad to partner with this great group of investors,” said Jordan, in a statement.
“The next generation of sports fans are esports fans,” said Ted Leonsis, co-executive chairman of aXiomatic and the founder, chairman, chief executive and majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment (which owns the Washington Wizards, Capitals and the WNBA Mystics franchise), in a statement. “Esports is the fastest-growing sector in sports and entertainment, and aXiomatic is at the forefront of that growth. We are thrilled to welcome Michael and Declaration Capital to aXiomatic and look forward to working together on some truly cutting-edge opportunities.”
Darren Heitner: Post Malone has signed with HyperX as a gaming brand ambassador, joining De’Aaron Fox, Gordon Hayward & Joel Embiid as endorsers.
What is it about eSports that speaks to the interest and talents of guys such as yourself? Chris Bosh: I think the team concept. People are going to be competing on a worldwide basis. And you are competing to be the best at something. That definitely speaks to guys in the NBA because it’s such a small fraternity and we understand how hard it is to get there and how hard it is to maintain.
Bosh is a person with varied interests: travel, cooking, coding/technology, guitar, family. Add a new one to the list: esports. Bosh has joined esports franchise Gen.G Esports as a player management advisor. Bosh plans to bring his experience in sports to esports: leadership, communication, teamwork, championship ideals, dealing with pressure and off-the-court issues. “It’s a dream for me to be able to work with these guys,” Bosh said. “The way I look at it, competing at a high level, whether that’s business, art or film, athletics, anything you do, there’s a certain way to go about it. Being in the NBA, being successful, being able to win championships at the highest level in the world, there’s certain core values that you have, certain things you have to follow.”
Gen.G competes in several games, including League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and the Los Angeles-based Overwatch League. How did this come about? Bosh developed a relationship with Gen.G co-founder and vice chairman Phillip Hyun. “We talked a lot and were just hanging, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come see what it is we’re doing with Gen.G?’ ” Bosh said. “I took my kids to watch, and it was pretty cool. Phillip asked if I wanted to become involved in some sort of way, and it just came together.”
On Monday night, over 891,000 viewers tuned in for the first-ever Riot Games-sanctioned friendly match between two professional international teams: Clutch Gaming and Bilibili Gaming. To celebrate Clutch Gaming’s recently announced partnership with Chinese video sharing site Bilibili, the two squads faced off in one serious match, followed by a trio of unorthodox exhibitions. In the lone serious match of the night, Clutch Gaming, the Houston Rockets-owned 2018 North American League Championship Series newcomers, took home the win, destroying Bilibili Gaming’s nexus after thirty minutes of focused play. Though Clutch fielded a mixed squad featuring representatives of the organization’s LCS and Academy teams, the victory showed the depth of talent on the organization’s roster. The match featured strong performances by jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate and support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme.
If you could choose anyone to squad up with on COD, who would it be? Wagner: Probably my roommates from last year, Duncan Robsinon and my two other roommates. I’m not going to say their names because nobody knows them. It’s no secret that you’re a pretty expressive and emotional guy on the court. Are you the same way with other things like video games? Wagner: You don’t want to be around me. I curse a lot playing video games and all that stuff. I’m a very emotional guy. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad so I just try to find a happy medium, but so far it’s been good to me.
Kenneth Faried is pretty good at Fortnite. In fact, back in June, when he was still with the Nuggets, he finished second at the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am Tournament. Not bad considering he wound up being paired with a last-minute fill-in. He took home a cool $250,000 in prize money which had to be used for a charitable purpose.
This week, Faried announced that he’s using the winnings to establish a foundation, Kenneth Faried HAT (for humble, appreciative, and thankful). “With the money I won for charity, I started a foundation called Kenneth Faried HAT. ‘HAT’ means humble, appreciative, and thankful,” he told Joe Lemire of SportsTechie. “I’ve been a person my whole life who believed that, through obstacles in life that you see, you may have good and bad, but you should always remain humble, appreciative, and thankful for everything—no matter what heights you reach in life or what you receive in this life.”
Kenneth Faried on Family (Video) Games: “I got into gaming because of my dad and, weirdly enough, my mom. My mom and my dad both were gamers. My mom has a TV in her room beside her bed where she has an Xbox she likes to play. My dad has his Xbox set up to his TV and uses it for the cable and knows how to do all that. He plays his Xbox with me—like we’ll play against each other in Madden or we’ll play with each other in Dynasty Warriors. I try to get him to play Fortnite, but he’s not real big into that. He likes sports games and RPG games. “I’ve got my parents all the way up to the Xbox One. We’re going to keep going. Whenever a new system drops, they’re going to get it with me. All those times they said, ‘Go on and go play your game and get out of my room’—it paid off with Fornite.”
Team Dignitas, the renowned esports franchise of the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment portfolio, has announced a multi-year partnership with global athletic apparel brand Champion Athleticwear, marking the brand’s first esports team and franchise partnership and foray into the esports ecosystem. Champion will become Team Dignitas’ Official Jersey, Casual Wear and Athletic Wear Provider, launching a new casual, fan-focused apparel line and online store alongside the franchise’s highly anticipated Fall 2018 rebrand. Acknowledging the growing women’s esports fan and player base, heightened by the popularity of Team Dignitas’ World Champion Women’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Team, Champion will develop a Team Dignitas-branded women’s apparel line. “The opportunity to partner with the apparel company that pioneered one of the most essential retail pieces in any esports player and fan’s wardrobe — the hoodie — is truly appropriate,” said Team Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville.”
NBA: Champion. @FrankLikina wins the @NBA2K Celebrity Tournament! #NBA2K19
Hurst’s eyes have already returned to his screen, but he continued: “I would’ve driven it right down the lane,” where an undefended basket was awaiting him, he said. Hurst is 21 years old and plays NBA 2K professionally in a league funded by the NBA on a team affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks. He moved nearly 5,000 miles last April for this job, arriving in Dallas from Reading, England. You might play video games when you get off work; this is Hurst’s work, a job that pays him a $32,000 full-time salary for the league’s five-month duration. He’s likely among the best 100 players in the world. And still, even he can’t escape something that has plagued almost anyone who has ever picked up a controller: sometimes, the game just doesn’t do what you want it to do, damn it.
Jannis Neumann may have eight Dirk Nowitzki bobbleheads perched on his desk, but he had never actually met Nowitzki. On a Thursday earlier this month, after two morning scrimmages online, that changes thanks to an interview set up by a German television station. “If someone had told me I would meet Dirk, I would have told them they’re crazy,” Neumann said. This is Neumann’s first time living in the United States after growing up in northwest Germany, near the Netherlands border. He’s one of three international players on the roster – along with Ryan de Villon, or Devillon, from Toronto, Canada, and Hurst, from England – who relocated internationally.
Nets Daily: When Nets set up their NBA2K League team, likely to be named “Brooklyn Gaming,” they’ll need a studio space. One possibility is the small practice court off main entrance. Virtually unused except on game nights, there’d be little conflict with Nets needs.
The NBA 2K League’s first season ended with a video game version of a real NBA rivalry: Knicks against Heat. In the future perhaps it’s Knicks against London. Or maybe it’s Heat against Shanghai. “We expect this to be a global league,” NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue said Saturday. “That is on our game plan, though when that happens it’s not definitive. But that is our goal.”
Donohue said the season exceeded all the league’s expectations, pointing to weekly increases in viewership on Twitch, the streaming service popular with video-game players, and a social media presence that includes more than 1.6 million followers of the league and its teams on social media platforms. The league will continue to explore ways to find even more viewers. “Right now we’re on Twitch and we’re focused on being on Twitch. We’re focused on them being our partner for a long time,” Donohue said. “We’ll do whatever we can to make sure we get our product in front of as much of the globe as possible, so we’ll talk to partners about how they can help us do that.”
Knicks Gaming are your inaugural 2018 NBA 2K League champions. It’s about as improbable of a phrase as their come-from-behind, series-clinching win during Game 2 of the best-of-three series, as New York trailed by nine points in the fourth quarter – 11 at the end of the first half – to pick up the W on Saturday. In complete contrast to their finals opposition, Knicks Gaming put together a total team effort to claim victory. All five members scored in double figures, marking the first time such a feat occurred for Knicks Gaming during their shocking playoff run. Credit first and foremost goes to Finals MVP, NateKahl, who registered 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting while playing impeccable defense on Heat Check Gaming star forward Hotshot. Two critical three-pointers down the stretch by the “stretch” power forward helped push Knicks Gaming ahead in the contest, and without NateKahl’s defense throughout the multi-series contest it’s possible the outcome could be completely different than what occurred Saturday.
Save for NateKahl’s timely threes and excellent defense, the other major component behind Knicks Gaming’s turnaround was the rebounding prowess of center G O O F Y 757. Relegated to essentially the third or fourth scoring option most nights due to recent meta changes, Goofy’s rebounding literally saved New York in the fourth quarter. In one particularly pivotal sequence of events, Goofy corralled not one, not two, but three offensive rebounds, setting the stage for what would a clutch three-pointer for Knicks Gaming to push the deficit under five points. Given iamadamthe1st’s struggles from the field (12 points, 4-of-16 shooting), Goofy’s rebounding and scoring load (18 points on 9-of-14 shooting) was the difference between a series sweep and the possibility of extending to Game 3.
Jeff Eisenband: The first-ever @NBA2KLeague champions: @KnicksGaming. #NBA2KLeagueFinals
Raul Barrigon: The @NBA2KLeague Finals Trophy: pic.twitter.com/5oQ5gMZHmC
Many owners believe that testing the format and giving owners not invested in esports outside of the 2K League a chance to experience the industry for the first time is healthy, according to sources. However, others have been disappointed by the viewership and engagement that have led to struggle in advertising and partnership sales, sources said. The $750,000 franchise fee for the 2K League and subsequent team operating costs are minuscule compared to the level of required capital to enter the more popular esports titles. The League Championship Series required its owners to commit to a multiyear contract that would see its teams pay $10 million to $13 million in franchises fees. The Overwatch League, in its first season, required $20 million over multiple years in franchise payments — and for its second season, it has sold teams for more than $35 million, sources said.
The NBA is expected to welcome franchises owned by the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves to its NBA 2K League ahead of its second season, league sources told ESPN. The four franchises will join the 17 NBA teams who participated in the inaugural NBA 2K League season, which began in May and will conclude with its first finals event on Aug. 25 in New York. The expansion price for the second season is the same as the first, $750,000 for three years of participation, according to sources.
Jeff Eisenband: While @OneWildWalnut2K was posing with his @NBA2KLeague MVP and Defensive Player of the Year trophies, @NateKahl went over and told him, “Those won’t help you next week.” 😂 @blazer5gaming vs. @KnicksGaming in quarterfinals next Friday. #NBA2KLeagueAwards
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March 7, 2021 | 5:08 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Blake Griffin has cleared free agency waivers and the six-time NBA All-Star is expected to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Justin Kubatko: Zion Williamson is the fourth-youngest player in history to be named an NBA All-Star (age in years-days on day of game): 19-169 – Kobe Bryant, 1998 20-052 – LeBron James, 2005 20-173 – Magic Johnson, 1980 20-244 – Williamson, 2021 20-266 – Kevin Garnett, 1997
Ahead of Sunday night’s All-Star Game, Paul George talked about what he’s seen from teammate Terance Mann so far this season and explained why he sees a younger version of himself in the 24-year-old swingman. “I’m one of T-Mann’s biggest fans,” George said. “I just love the kid. He reminds me of myself so much coming into the league… Just a kid and a player that can do just about everything on the floor.
Paul George: “He’s a strong kid, strong body, he’s very mature for his age, he’s a hard worker, and he just leaves it on the floor… I see so many similarities in myself in him that I went through on shooting the ball confidently because I was in those same situations… I think he’s gonna be in this league very long, and he has a really good chance to become a really, really, really good player in this league.”
Prior to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Curry was asked if he could see any comparisons between he and EuroLeague legend Juan Carlos Navarro. It’s clear Curry has turned on his tape before. “I played against him one time in international basketball and seen a lot of film,” Curry said Sunday to reporters. “His creativity, his shot selection, his rhythm on the floor — it jumps off the screen when you play against him. I’ve seen him take the one-footed 3s and the way he moved all around the floor, I learned a little of what I could implement into my game. I’ve tried the one-foot 3s a couple time, made a couple.”
TNT’s 2021 NBA All-Star Game coverage will open with a special conversation between Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP Harris) and award-winning actor Michael B. Jordan (@michaelb4jordan) at 8 p.m. ET. The two discuss how the VP’s time at Howard University shaped her career, her love of basketball and the need to remain vigilant to stop the spread of COVID-19 and promote the efficacy of the vaccine.