Lakers will join NBA 2K League next season, pushing into SoCal eSports

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe league itself started this spring as a joint venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive, the developer for the NBA’s official video game. The 2K league is an attempt by the league to monetize the growing world of eSports, which has an estimated 400 million viewers around the world on streaming platforms such as Twitch.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.A number of NBA owners and players are already in the business of eSports, with sponsorships or ownership stakes in various clubs. But with the 2K league, the NBA created what Commissioner Adam Silver has called the “fourth league” of the organization, complete with team rosters, uniforms, digitally-designed courts and a regular-season and postseason schedule.Teams are comprised of players with individually designed avatars within certain skill limitations (likenesses of actual NBA players are not used) who compete in 5-on-5 games and tournaments at the 2K league’s New York studios. Games are streamed online, where they earn advertising revenue or cash in via sponsorships and corporate partnerships.Donohue cited a number of figures to speak to the 2K league’s viability: It has more than 1.6 million followers across social media platforms, and it has 132 million video views across all platforms. But it also trails such eSports giants as Fortnite and League of Legends, and even among sporting games, soccer title FIFA has greater overall viewership.But Donohue said NBA team owners are “bullish” on the gently maturing 2K league, which they believe has sky-high growth potential. In a press conference in April, Silver told reporters that he was convinced by seeing arenas fill up for esports events (an Overwatch event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last month, for example, sold out and was among the most expensive tickets of the year). Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed A whole new kind of Lakers team will appear in Los Angeles next year – one that plays basketball through pixels and lines of code.The Lakers are one of four franchises that will join the NBA 2K League next season, expanding the NBA’s gaming league from 17 to 21 teams. The Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves are also adding franchises to the video game league.For the Lakers, the venture into eSports represents expanding the franchise’s already sizable footprint into the gaming community, potentially opening a new revenue stream in a growing commercial realm. But it might be even more important for the league, which is in the playoffs of its first season and is hopeful that its first team in the Southern California market – an “epicenter” of gaming – could boost its profile.“To open up that market for us locally, we’re ecstatic with it,” said Brendan Donohue, managing director of the 2K league. “Beyond the logo, it’s certainly a brand that we’re excited to bring into the league.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years center_img “That was incredibly eye-opening for me to see the enthusiasm from a packed house of gamers cheering for things up on a screen that I couldn’t understand, which is one reason why I thought, ‘Let’s work with the NBA format because at least it all makes sense to me,’” Silver said. “Even if I’m not a great gamer myself, at least I can follow what’s on the screen.”Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers It’s worth noting that the Staples Center has also sold out esports events in the past few years as well.Details for the Lakers team name, logos and other specifics have not yet been settled. An expansion draft will be set after the current season wraps up, Donohue said. The Lakers will have discretion for what staff will be hired and facilities will be provided – many current teams have directors, coaches and other support staff, and they live and work in team-provided housing and practice areas. Salaries for players this season range between $35,000 and $32,000 and the league-winning team earns additional prize money, which is $1 million this year.All competition for the near future will be in New York, but Donohue wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Los Angeles could host a live 2K league event one day.“In all likelihood, as we continue to grow, we’ll be looking to take our show on the road at some point as well. So all of our competition won’t be held in New York forever.”Officials for the Lakers were not immediately available for comment.For the Lakers, their venture into eSports with a team in the NBA 2K League next season represents a chance to expand the franchise’s already sizable footprint into the gaming community, potentially opening a new revenue stream. (Image courtesy of 2K Sports) Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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