Storyline: eSports

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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.

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.

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.”
8 months ago via ESPN

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.

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).
1 year ago via ESPN

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.

“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.”

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.”
1 year ago via ESPN

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.

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.”

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.

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.
2 years ago via ESPN

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.
2 years ago via ESPN

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.

Gordon Hayward: It’s everywhere now. Everybody plays it. Bleacher Report came out with some article, saying Fortnite had just taken over NBA players’ lives. Pretty much every athlete I know has at least played a little. Everybody on our team plays. A lot of them play on consoles. Most of the athletes I know play on console. I don’t know as many people that play on PC. But another thing that is cool about Fortnite is you can play cross-console. So you can have someone on PS4 and they can be playing against me on PC. People on XBOX can be playing against people on PC. That’s pretty cool. There’s not a lot of games that are like that, and it gives a chance for PC players to play against console players.

Gordon Hayward: I was supposed to be in the Fortnite Pro-Am event, which is in LA right around E3, early June. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it because the second surgery had me immobile for that period of time. I heard it was a really cool event. They paired 50 pros with 50 celebrities. But it would be actually really fun to have an all-NBA Fortnite match or something. I’ve been playing for a few months now, so I’m pretty confident I could come out on top. In fact, I’d almost guarantee it, and I’d be happy to take on anyone from any other sport, too. Anybody up for the challenge?

Even though it had only been one month since the last time we spoke, Franklin’s life had continued to change in ways he never imagined and every day, he was creating incredible memories. The Sacramento Kings players who love video games quickly became friendly with the players on Kings Guard Gaming, which gave Franklin some cool stories he could tell his friends back home. “It’s crazy, man! Literally right before jumping on this phone call, I was playing Fortnite and De’Aaron Fox was just standing behind me, hanging out and watching me play,” he said. “He’s someone who has some of the most potential of any player in the NBA and here he is just being a cool, humble kid! That’s just one example. Jack Cooley has been really great to be around too. I really feel like one of the players. “

“When I was playing NBA 2K12, I consistently put in work every single day,” Franklin told HoopsHype. “Then, once I felt I was prepared and ready to face top competition, I started hitting up every Top-25 team and asking them to give me a chance. Back then, if you were on a Top-25 team, people in the 2K community knew who you were. I was just some random guy and nobody knew who I was, but I became a pest. I messaged every Top-25 team saying, ‘I know you don’t know me, but give me a chance. All I need is one tryout and I’ll show you that I’m one of the best.’ Then, I got a shot and earned a spot on the No. 3 team. Two years later, in NBA 2K14, GameBattles had a playoff with a $2,000 prize – the largest 2K prize pool in GameBattles history – and my team won that. After that, I really knew, ‘Yeah, this is for me.’ I became obsessed with it, doing anything I could push myself and become better.”

“If you told me this would happen 10 years ago, I would’ve told you that you’re crazy. Honestly, if you told me about all this two years ago, I would’ve said you’re insane,” Franklin told HoopsHype. “I’ve loved playing video games my whole life, but I wasn’t really serious about it – nothing like I am with 2K. The majority of my family goes hunting and fishing, but I’ve never enjoyed that. I always loved video games and was a natural at them. They finally stopped bringing me hunting because I’d bring my Game Boy out in the woods, and it would make all these noises and you’re supposed to be really quiet when you’re hunting (laughs). They finally got upset with me and stopped bringing me, so I guess I sort of won that war. But I always knew I wasn’t really into outdoor activities like that; I’ve always loved video games and I was always a sports fanatic, so to be able to play 2K for a living is a dream come true.”

Less than a year ago, Chris Toussaint was a high-school student who loved eSports, but he didn’t have any experience playing NBA 2K. Now, at 18 years old, he’s the general manager of Magic Gaming in the NBA 2K League. How did Toussaint get hired by the Orlando Magic and become the youngest person working in the 2K League? By sending a cold email to Director of Magic Gaming Ryan DeVos. “I reached out to the Magic and Ryan DeVos after I found his email by doing some research online,” Toussaint told HoopsHype. “I sent him a cold email, just like I had done so many times when I was starting out in the eSports world, and he actually responded. That led to a lunch meeting with Ryan, where I was able to talk a little bit about myself and what my aspirations are in this business. About two to three weeks later, I was at the final stages of my interview with the Magic to become the general manager of their 2K League team. Then, I was hired a few days later. This was back in October of 2017.”

“Chris reached out when he was with Misfits because he wanted to learn a little bit more about the 2K League in general and find out what I was working on from a Magic Gaming standpoint,” DeVos told HoopsHype. “Then, we connected more officially when Ben Spoont, the founder and CEO of Misfits, told me that Chris wanted to get into the team management side of things and passed him my way. We had a great rapport from the get-go. We really hit it off and we started working together from there. “I oversee the team and Chris reports to me, but I’m primarily focused on the business side of things. I’m trying to leave the gaming side of things to Chris as much as possible. It is just Chris and myself right now so it is all hands on deck, but I’m mainly focused on the business partnerships, PnL management and things like that.”

“I’m 18 years old working for the Orlando Magic; I believe I’m one of the youngest employees to be hired by an NBA team on the management side,” Toussaint said. “I want to document this story. I’m learning so much about the world while doing something awesome that I’m passionate about. One of the things that I want to do is create my own content, capturing the best and worst moments of this journey so I can share it with the world. I want to show what eSports is like behind the scenes. People see the tournaments and prize money and all of that, but they don’t see everything else that goes into it. These guys are fierce competitors who care so much about winning, just like their NBA counterparts. I want to capture this journey, from my perspective as a manager and team coach. That’s one of my goals.”

Jeff Terrell: I’m thankful to be in the position I am in. We’re excited but understand this is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go and have a lot of things we can improve on. It’s surreal to be the first ever @NBA2KLeague tournament Champs! Thanks for all the support. #together

76ers Gaming Club have announced that they have signed Jeff Terrell as the head coach for their 2K League team, who will look after not only player management but also the performance of the team as well as their practice scheduled. “We are excited to name Jeff Terrell as the head coach of 76ers Gaming Club,” 76ers GC General Manager Michael Lai said. “Jeff stood out to us immediately, having both an intimate knowledge of the competitive NBA 2K scene and extensive experience coaching traditional basketball. Beyond his experience, Jeff demonstrated a thoughtful approach to the game that will put our players in a position to succeed. We are delighted to have him as our coach, and I look forward to working with him toward our goal of winning a championship.”

The Cavaliers weren’t the only Cleveland basketball team to win in thrilling fashion Tuesday. The city’s first pro esports team Cavs Legion GC did it too. In their first-ever game in the NBA 2K League, Sick (Jerry Knapp) took a pass from Hood (Brandon Caicedo) on a drive and kick and hit a game-winning three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left for a 76-63 victory over Kings Gaming. Hood, Cavs Legion’s top pick in the draft, finished the game with 41 points and 8 assists.
2 years ago via ESPN

My video game participation peaked with Goldeneye for Nintendo 64. Even so, those of us with an interest in court design awaited what NBA teams might do with their virtual floors. They could be more adventurous, and if some nutty out-of-the-box gamble resonated, perhaps they might one day incorporate it into real NBA games featuring real humans playing real basketball. ESPN obtained an exclusive first look at the finished courts. Here they are, in alphabetical order, with some instant analysis: 76ers Gaming Club. Philly may have the NBA’s best top-to-bottom art. The mix of blue, red, and clean nods to history always works. This is a little more audacious, and doesn’t quite match Philly’s usual standards. The empty paint trend mostly phased out of the NBA over the last two or three years, but as we’re going to see, it (unfortunately) returns with a vengeance in the virtual NBA. Lightly shaded logos within each 3-point arc are very much in — see Denver and New Orleans in real life — but this version is clunky. There are just too many shaded objects competing for your eye’s attention.

The headsets will be worn by both players and casters during all live gameplay throughout the course of the season, including weekly matchups, three in-season tournaments, playoffs and the NBA 2K League Finals “We want NBA 2K League players to have best-in-class equipment, and when it comes to headsets, HyperX is second to none,” NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue said. “Communicating with teammates during play is vital for success and partnering with HyperX will allow our players to compete at their best.”

Cavs Legion Gaming Club will tip off its inaugural season in the NBA 2K League with three games on Tuesday. Cleveland’s first professional esports team begin play in the league’s first tournament by taking on Sacramento’s Kings Guard Gaming at 6 p.m. and Milwaukee’s Bucks Gaming at 7 p.m. before closing out the night against Detroit’s Pistons Gaming Team at 10 p.m. All games will be played at the NBA 2K League studio in New York City and streamed live on Twitch.

Woods, 18, is the youngest player in the league. He made the call to drop out of University of Tennessee-Martin. First-round picks will make $35,000; others will make $32,000. One million dollars in prize money will be at stake over the course of the season. The playoff pool is $600,000 with the league champion receiving $300,000. Eight teams reach the postseason. “(My parents) let me drop out to go for it and just told me to try my best. If I want to change up, I can go back to school,” Woods said. “You can always go to school, but not everybody gets the chance to be a professional gamer. I want to do this. God forbid that I have to go back, I can always go back.”

Leonsis sees the NBA as a platform, like Facebook — “the good Facebook,” he said Monday morning. And he expects 2K teams will become part of that platform, both as a revenue-generator and a content-provider, along with an owners’ NBA, WNBA and G League teams. “In the short term, it will help us in marketing and help us be more relevant to a younger audience,” Leonsis said. “It will also help us globally. The Twitches and YouTubes are unwired, and available to people around the world.”

“eSports will be a boon for traditional media,” Leonsis said. “The two drivers of revenue and fan affinity will be digital sports and digital gaming and gambling. Outside of the U.S., digital gambling is accepted. You go do digital gambling like you would go to a Starbucks … if you look at things like Draft Kings, if you put a virtual team together, you watch all of the games. You’re really interested. When casual fans bet on games, like the NCAA Tournament or the Super Bowl, the viewership stays really high.”

Now Thomallari has a salary to go with his video-game talents. Along with the other first-round selections, he will be paid $35,000 for the 17-week season. The draft went six rounds, and each team selected a starting lineup and one back-up. Players picked outside of the first round will be paid $32,000 for the season. All players will receive standard medical benefits, as well as housing in Boston paid for by the league (rather than the Celtics). “Fourteen months ago, there was no path to pro,” NBA 2K League commissioner Brendan Donohue told reporters in Boston on Friday. “To go from there to where they are now is great.”

Yesterday’s draft was the first real step on that journey. It was a promising start, but just that: a start. Silver said he expects that all 30 NBA franchises will field esports teams by the third year of the gaming league — another sign that the NBA and Take-Two are in this for the long haul. But that’s a long way off. “Things aren’t going to be perfect in the beginning, but we’ve just got to get out there,” said Silver during the press conference. “We’ve got to begin operating, and we’ll learn as we’ll go.”
More HoopsHype Rumors
April 2, 2020 | 9:36 pm EDT Update
For the time being, and likely for weeks or months to come, basketball is no longer the team’s primary public concern. “We’re trying to get ahead of the game as best we can,” Tellem said. “As part of that, it’s changing our whole public face. Usually we’re talking about upcoming games, the draft, free agency, all those things in our advertising and content online and obviously we’re now changing that content.”
The league has not made public any plans for the remainder of the season or playoffs, which were supposed to start April 18. Per a contract agreement with the league, players received paychecks April 1 despite the suspended season, but the NBA has yet to reach a long-term agreement, ESPN reported. “There will be a time, when we flatten the curve and we’re on the significant down side of the curve, that professional sports and all sports will play an important role in the healing of this country,” Tellem said.
April 2, 2020 | 8:15 pm EDT Update
P.J. Tucker will release a new limited-edition collection of clothing items next week to help promote awareness of coronavirus safety measures and raise funds for the Houston Food Bank and local businesses and vendors. Tucker announced that he and The Better Generation will make items available for a preorder through the weekend or while supplies last. The items will include long and short sleeve shirts, shorts and a baseball cap and feature COVID-19 awareness graphics.
“We all came together and said we wanted to do something positive,” Tucker said. “With so much negativity and so much stuff going on right now in the world, we wanted to do something to give back and help out. We’re doing three different shirts, three different shorts and a hat. There is a social distancing logo and messaging on the back with the logo for the store.”
April 2, 2020 | 5:36 pm EDT Update
Porter, who spent one season at Missouri, said he’s got a private gym that he can access whenever he wants. “I’ve literally been in the gym just as much as I was in Denver, which has been really good,” Porter said on Altitude’s digital show. “I feel like I haven’t really lost a lot. And it’s been good for my ankle, too, because you know my ankle was still kind of sore.”
In his downtime, he said he’s been preparing for the NBA 2K tournament that will air Friday night on ESPN. Porter, a No. 12 seed, drew No. 5 seed Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns. Booker’s a notorious gamer, but Porter liked his chances. “I’m just naturally good at 2K,” he said. “It’s kind of weird. 2K, if you’re good at actual basketball, like it translates.”
The Atlanta Hawks, through the Hawks Foundation and State Farm, are funding the preparation of 4,000 meals weekly to be delivered to the more than 1,000 frontline healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients at Emory Healthcare through a four-week pilot that is part of the newly-formed Atlanta Healthcare Heroes inaugural program. The meals are provided in partnership with two local Atlanta restaurants, which are now able to re-employ “hundreds” of workers who were recently laid off or furloughed due to the financial effects of the crisis, according to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin.
April 2, 2020 | 5:11 pm EDT Update
Although it launched last October, the Utah Jazz is using their Utah Jazz Podcast Network as an outlet for players to broaden their off-the-court reach and skills. “Our players have obviously been focused on keeping themselves healthy and making sure that their family and those close to them are healthy,” Bart Sharp, the Jazz’s senior vice president of marketing, said. “But they’ve also expressed a desire to try and provide some sense of normalcy and entertainment to our fan base during this time and wanted to find ways in which they can help people during this unique period.”
Already, some of the Jazz’s most well-known players are lending a hand to help produce content for the team. Utah rolled out its first player-specific podcast series, Ingles Insight, centered around Jazz shooting guard Joe Ingles, on March 21. The fifth-year player out of Adelaide, South Australia, is accompanied on Ingles Insight by his wife, Renae Ingles. The inaugural episode had more than 11,000 downloads in the first week, over 200 five-star reviews, and was the second-most popular basketball podcast in the United States on Apple Music, Sharp said.
Another new video podcast series hosted by Utah power forward Georges Niang, Drive and Dish, launched its first episode on Tuesday, March 31. Filmed out of Niang’s home and recorded through Zoom, Drive And Dish is described by Sharp as an “interview-style” podcast. The first episode saw Niang talk with teammate Jordan Clarkson about what is going on right now in a basketball-less world: what Clarkson is doing during the quarantine, his various tattoos, his distinct fashion taste, and other topics. After the debut of Drive And Dish, Sharp and the Jazz are preparing for another podcast series starring both Niang and Donovan Mitchell.
April 2, 2020 | 4:36 pm EDT Update
Doc Rivers wasn’t immediately impressed with Williams when the Clippers acquired him from the Houston Rockets. On Thursday’s episode of The Bob Ryan and Jeff Goodman Podcast, Rivers spoke about his first impressions of Williams. “When we traded for Lou, I was not having Lou,” Rivers said. “I saw a guy that kept getting traded. And I appreciated his offense, but not nearly, never thought it was this good… When he finally showed up three days before training camp, I was not having him. I was like, ‘We’re not gonna work’, you know?”
“I brought him up in the office and I told him my feelings,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Lou, you’re one of these guys that wanna do whatever you wanna do, and you don’t want to buy-in. We asked everybody to come in. Everyone did except for you… I don’t know how this is gonna work.’ And he said, ‘I’ve been traded five years in a row. Why would I buy-in to you?’, and I didn’t have an answer.”
So with 19.5 seconds remaining in overtime and the Hawks trailing by seven to the New York Knicks, head coach Lloyd Pierce checked Carter into the game and the emotions began to hit him as the home crowd chanted. “I kind of made eye contact with coach (Pierce) and he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah,'” Carter said on the latest episode of “Winging it with Vince Carter and Annie Finberg.” “Right then, it’s like a chill just hit me.”
April 2, 2020 | 4:30 pm EDT Update

Knicks front office staying put

For now, Leon Rose is proceeding as status quo with an inherited front office in following an unofficial NBA hiring/firing stoppage with the world stopped cold. According to sources, Rose is actively holding scouting meetings with his staff via conference call/video regarding the draft. “I don’t see any teams hiring or firing during this,” one NBA source said. “That’s the sense.”
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Pelicans shooting guard JJ Redick and his wife, Chelsea, are spearheading a campaign that will provide millions of meals throughout south Louisiana while it battles the coronavirus. On Thursday, the Redicks, the Pelicans and the Lineage Logistics, a food transportation and distribution company, announced donations to Second Harvest Food Bank. Together, they aim to provide 1.8 million meals in 23 parishes.
April 2, 2020 | 4:21 pm EDT Update
Karl has not coached in the NBA since leaving the Kings. Cousins has suffered a number of serious injuries. And so, on April Fools’ Day, Karl decided to joke about a potential reunion, saying that both were headed back to the Kings.