Esports is a huge business and the NBA is ready to enter that realm.
This past week, the NBA and 2K Sports held the first-ever NBA 2K League Draft. The players involved in the league will be paid a salary and receive benefits for the length of their six-month contracts, as gaming essentially becomes their job.
The NBA 2K League is a professional esports league that was co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software (the creators of NBA 2K). The league is about to start its inaugural season, with 17 of the NBA’s 30 franchises participating. The season begins in May and concludes in August. In addition to weekly games, the league will have three in-season tournaments and a postseason (with $1 million in prize money up for grabs at these events). The hope is that this league will resonate with NBA fans and esports fans alike.
“From the NBA standpoint, this is our fourth league,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “We have the NBA, (the) WNBA and the G League. And now this is the fourth league in our family, and that’s exactly how we’re treating it.
While esports has exploded in some corners, it has struggled to gain traction with sports video games. Low viewership numbers and several controversies have damaged already shaky credibility. With the NBA being fully on board, there will be plenty of room to grow as long the NBA stays committed for the long haul.