The National Basketball Association (NBA) is teaming up with Take-Two Interactive (Parent company of Rockstar Games) to launch an eSports league(called the NBA 2K eLeague), marking the biggest tie-up yet between physical and electronic sports.
“The large part of my mission is to grow the game of basketball,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement “There’s going to be an opportunity for this first of a kind league to attract a group of gamers who might be playing some other game. Now, they can say `Maybe I couldn’t play for the Knicks, because I didn’t have the physical prowess to compete at that level. But I do have the mental and physical prowess to compete as an egamer for the eKnicks.”‘
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick added: “We are proud to expand our strong relationship with the NBA and co-create the NBA 2K eLeague. Through the NBA 2K series, which is renowned throughout the world for capturing the authenticity of the NBA and the passion of its fans, we have a proven track record of highly successful collaboration. With this new venture, Take-Two and the NBA aim to fuel the accelerating growth of esports and take the thrill of competition to exciting new heights.”
“NBA 2K eLeague” is scheduled to debut in 2018. The league will start with about 8-12 teams – we don’t know which teams yet, but it is noted that eventually all 30 NBA teams will be represented. There will be five pro gamers on each time who will play with user-created avatars instead of with the likenesses of real players.
The business relationship between NBA and Take-Two started in 1999, with the first game in NBA 2k Series. The newest entry, NBA 2K17, has shipped almost 7 million units and is poised to become 2K’s highest-selling sports title ever.