by Timothy Geigner

Filed Under:
basketball, esports


The NBA Announces Plan To Start Its Own eSports NBA League

from the this-just-got-real dept

eSports has been a thing for some time now. While competitive video gaming was once relegated to some minor tournaments incorporating a few games held in a couple of countries in Asia, eSports has evolved into a wider industry. You can track the progress of it all by its reaching certain checkpoints: viewership numbers that look like those of real-life sporting events, the introduction of college scholarships for eAthletes, and eSports coverage appearing on national broadcasts from the likes of ESPN. The trend line for this has only moved in one direction. And now that appears to be continuing with professional sports leagues getting in on the action.

The latest in this is the National Basketball Association's announcement that it will be partnering with Take-Two Interactive to start its own eSports basketball league.

Today, the National Basketball Association announced plans to partner with publisher Take-Two Interactive for an official NBA 2K esports league, which led NBA commissioner Adam Silver to deliver this fantastic quote to the Wall Street Journal: “Think of eBulls against the eKnicks.”

The way this will work should be exactly as I imagined it would when I began playing the single player versions of sports games half a decade ago. And I'm sure many others considered how this might happen as well. Individual gamers would control individual custom players within an official league. It's like playing the MyPlayer version of the NBA2K series, except that you're playing in a league consisting of nothing but MyPlayers and competing online for teams, which might have their own owners, pay structures, etc.

The league, Silver explained, will operate just like the NBA: It’ll have a regular season, a playoff bracket, and a finals matchup. Teams of five players, each with his (or her?) own custom NBA 2K characters, will compete in a five-month season that starts in 2018. There’ll even be a draft, Silver said, although he also noted to the Wall Street Journal that none of the 30 NBA teams have fully committed to this esports league yet. (He expects around half of them to participate in the first year.)

It's not hard to imagine how this could balloon from this starting point. Owners of eSports NBA franchises might in the future fill a 12-man roster with gamers in this manner. They might hire coaches, fill out budgets for general managers that will be responsible for drafting and signing eAthletes, etc. It would be an eSports league that would mirror the real life sports league in most ways. The concept sounds really fun, though it remains to be seen how many NBA teams want to get on board.

What is clear, though, is that eSports isn't some fad ready to flame out quickly.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2017 @ 12:08am

    Competitive XCOM 2?
    Competitive Civilization VI?

    For now it is likely that the game of choice is NBA xxxx, but both of those titles are flirting with competitive formats and mods. While I would never think of Civ VI as competitive in its current iteration, the "no quitter"s made the mess called Civ V into a pretty good multiplayer game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    R1V37H34D (profile), 14 Feb 2017 @ 3:07am

    Welcome to the NBA eSports expierence!

    This is really funny...imagine, they create a business model around it and get the patents to control it...okay maybe a bit of far fetched...imagine, they bring the competition to a new level like you are...the orc mob in some kind of fantasy rpg, a pilot of a alien flying saucer invading earth...the possibilities are endless, because of competition and this means also all the mobs you's competition...and some day in the future you realize after buying and installing this new shiny MMO[FILL_IN_YOUR_DESIRED_GAME_TYPE] that your choice is limited to [CAST_A_TYPICAL_THEME_DEPENDENT_MOB] and someone tells you when and where to need for publishers to spend money on AI's controlling this part of a game...because there is lot of NI(natural intelligence) out there stupid enough to pay for this...great times ahead...btw, i caught a harsh flu and sit on my bed with my tablet pc...oh, the blue T-REX next to my bed told me to stop now and get some sleep...she is a decent fellow and told me to greet you...;-)...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2017 @ 6:26am

    "What is clear, though, is that eSports isn't some fad ready to flame out quickly."

    No it won't, because there's an endless supply of stupid, fat, lazy gamers available to support it. More grist for the mill of the obesity and heart disease epidemic. Just sit right there on the couch stuffing junk food in your face and gaming instead of doing something unthinkable like running a mile or ten or -- OMG -- actually PLAYING a sport, working up a sweat, and doing something health-positive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      xtian (profile), 14 Feb 2017 @ 9:52am


      Gamers are a huge slice of the general population, so the range of weight, intelligence, and motivation is the same as the general population.

      If you'd ever seen even a short clip of a big esports event, you would have noticed that.

      Moreover, if you had any knowledge of sports games, like NBA, Madden Football, or Fifa, you'd know that they aren't simulations of playing the actual game.

      Yet you are ignorant and probably have an aol email address. The world passed you by. Join the AARP and deal with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Paul Alan Levy (profile), 14 Feb 2017 @ 8:13am

    Impact on IP

    Query whether the NBA, and indeed all sports, will use this development as a basis for claiming that esports is a market that they are entitled to control, so no other esport use of the names of teams is permitted

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 14 Feb 2017 @ 8:37am

      Re: Impact on IP

      Well, regardless of their involvement of eSports, they already have their trademark protection on team names. I'm not clear on how this would change anything?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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