First the D-League, Now the eLeague: New NBA Partnership with 2K


The National Basketball Association announced on Thursday that they will partner with Take-Two Interactive to launch  a new eSports league.

The “NBA 2K eLeague” as it will be formally known, is set to launch in 2018 after the NBA released a statement on Thursday.

The interactive gaming league will reportedly be designed to mirror the realism of the NBA. It will follow a full 82 game schedule, the post-season and even a player draft. The five player eTeams will also be run by current franchises, initially around ten. There is the expectation of all thirty eventually being represented in the digital environment.

"Take-Two Interactive, who produce the multi-award winning NBA 2K gaming franchise said via the company Facebook page: “This partnership provides an excellent opportunity to further engage the eSports community, leveraging the NBA’s team ecosystem and the worldwide success of the NBA 2K simulation basketball platform,”"

The 2K eLeague is the first of its kind in the US. The NBA is the only of the four major sports to officially engage in an interactive partner-league. “eSports” revenue continues to grow at a colossal rate. Continuously growing, the industry saw a 51.7% increase to $493m on the previous year according to a report from Newzoo and expect it to continue to grow above $1.1bn in 2019.

"NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told USA Today Sports “There’s a global pool of gamers. They come in all ages, and sizes and ethnicities and sexes, and then we will at some point have a draft that will look somewhat similar to an NBA draft, in which the teams will select their players, and presumably on top of that they’ll have the ability to spot some great talent on their own, players who aren’t identified through sort of a league system. And that’s how we’ll form our teams.”"

eSports Around the League

Although the NBA partnering with eSports is new, the concept of the industries crossing paths isn’t. Former players like Rick Fox, Magic Johnson and even Kobe Bryant are involved in different capacities. Meanwhile, teams such as the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers have already invested previously in “League of Legends” teams. These have been a cornerstone of eGaming growing to the level it has in such a short period of time.

NBA 2K is already among the most popular sports platforms in the world and beloved among basketball fans and players alike. Now, it will benefit from a huge amplification in market reach and the subsequent growth that comes with a deal of this scale.

There has been no official word yet as to which NBA teams will be involved at this early stage. The Clippers would definitely be worth keeping an eye on though. Steve Ballmer made his name in the tech industry. He continues to look for ways to keep the team at the very pinnacle of innovation. In the past, Clippers’ players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have already featured on the front cover of  releases.

Adam Silver has continued to approach the job with an open mind, always seeking new avenues to lead the NBA into the future.

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