If you’re not quite up for discussing the latest rumors of player trading in the NBA lately, then maybe you’ll like this particular piece of news on what else the world’s greatest pro basketball league has been busying itself with. This probably will be appreciated more by, of all people, videogame players, especially those who favor controlling the most up-to-date NBA rosters in Visual Concepts, 2K Sports and Take-Two Interactive’s super in-depth “NBA2K” game series, especially the latest installment since September 2016, “NBA2K17”. Now, the rise of esports in the form of multiplayer videogame competitions held all over the world is very tangible, and now more so after the NBA announced on Thursday their newly minted partnership with “NBA2K” distributor Take-Two Interactive, in order to build an honest to goodness official NBA 2K eLeague.

NBA teams get eSport versions

You may have heard of the Philadelphia 76ers offering training and developmental resources to the eSports sector in order to get them to a pro level of play, but that's just one team's initiative. In line with this new electronics entertainment partnership, all 30 NBA team organizations will be set to receive their very own counterpart e-Team to participate in games of the proposed NBA 2K eLeague, each comprised of five “professional gamers” paid regular salaries. Their sport is to play any given version of the long-running “NBA2K” game series on multiple platforms, in what will be the very first official eSports league that’s connected to and operated by an American pro sports league.

Don’t hold your breath yet however, the most generous estimates of the NBA would have their eLeague launching sometime in 2018. And another thing, these e-players won’t be using the 2K games’ avatars of the actual NBA players, but will be obliged to craft their own roster of unique players avatars using the games’ own “create-a-player” features.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver sees the NBA 2K eLeague as a league of its own with their own personalized set of professional athletes. “There’s a global pool of gamers,” he says. “They come in all ages, and sizes and ethnicities and sexes, and then we will at some point have a draft that will look somewhat similar to an NBA draft, in which the teams will select their players, and presumably on top of that they’ll have the ability to spot some great talent on their own, players who aren’t identified through sort of a league system.

And that’s how we’ll form our teams.”

Gamers living the dream

The idea of videogame players going on to real sports isn’t an NBA exclusive. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Polyphony Digital and Nissan Europe have partnered since 2008 to establish GT Academy, where hardcore players of the Sony videogame series “Gran Turismo” get an opportunity to learn how to drive racecars and break into professional motorsports. The NBA 2K eLeague is merely a more eSports oriented spin on the concept of turning couch players into salaried pro gamers.

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