The NBA is set to host a players-only esports tournament using sports sim title NBA 2K and it will be broadcast live on ESPN, according to reports.
On March 12, the NBA made the decision to suspend the 2019/20 season due to ongoing global events. Since then, basketball fans around the world have been left without something to fill the gap — until now, that is.
According to reports from Yahoo Sports, America’s top-flight basketball league appears set to follow other global competitions like Formula 1 into the world of esports. This swap to the digital realm, however, will be led by the stars.
The event is set to begin on Friday, April 3. It will likely see one pro player from each of the 30 NBA teams go head-to-head, according to league sources.
Each team is also expected to have one NBA 2K pro involved in the event, according to NBA insider Chris Haynes. Whether this will be in a playing capacity, or simply a coaching role, is yet to be confirmed.
Which NBA stars will compete in the 2K event?
There has been no indication, as yet, regarding which top stars will be joining the event. It is expected organizations will announce their representatives, and the gamers to be paired with them, ahead of the Friday tournament.
We can have a good guess though, especially considering how many NBA stars have already turned to gaming and streaming with the season delay.
Frontrunners for the esports limelight include Phoenix star Devin Booker — who is already tied to 100 Thieves and streaming — and Boston’s Gordon Hayward. Paul George, Jeremy Lin, and Ben Simmons could be other choices too.
Aussie star Simmons especially could be up for the challenge, considering he competed in FaZe’s Warzone tournament alongside big names like Dr Disrespect. Luka Doncic could be another shoe-in after he started streaming last week.
One inclusion many fans are likely crossing their fingers for is, of course, LeBron James. While he’d certainly bring extra interest, the Lakes may not be too keen to have him as a rep considering he refuses to play 2K “properly.”
Esports marches on during sports delays
It’s no real surprise the NBA and ESPN are turning to gaming after the 2019/20 season delay. Across the globe, leagues have ground to a halt. Broadcasters have been left scratching their heads about what to air instead.
Enter esports. Already F1 has aired multiple F1 2019 and racing simulator events. More than 350,000 tuned in to watch the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix on Twitch. Similar events have been run by NASCAR Racing and NFL Madden as well.
Perhaps the closest event to the NBA’s latest move came when the Phoenix Suns declared “the season isn’t over,” and began simulating their upcoming fixtures on Twitch. Now it looks like the rest of the league is following suit.