SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If you can’t watch real NBA basketball, you might as well watch virtual basketball.
The Utah Jazz NBA2K gaming team is gearing up for its third season, which should launch in a few weeks.
“It’s definitely the biggest show in town right now, which is crazy,” Jazz gamer Shaka “Yeah I Compete” Browne said. “So, it’s great that e-sports has a chance right now to really grow.”
There are 23 teams in the NBA 2K league, with teams competing in 5-on-5 matchups. With the coronavirus pandemic, teams will have to compete against each other remotely instead of the same room, and the league has delayed the start of the season while it figures out the logistics.
But you can’t just be good at video games to play. You do really have to know the game of basketball.
“You have to have high basketball IQ,” Browne said. “You have to know how to work the pick and roll. Defensively, you have to know how to communicate, rotate. You have to understand how to attack mismatches. There are a lot of similarities.”
And you have to take care of your body too. Well, your fingers anyway.
“It’s the hands, the hands, the fingers,” Browne said with a laugh. “They get a little slow. You have to take care of your fingers and take care of your mind, mental sharpness. Those are very important.”
NBA 2K is so big, Donovan Mitchell just played in a 16-player tournament on ESPN, but lost in the final seconds to Washington’s Rui Hachimura on Sunday, which surprised Browne.
“I was because we actually played together at a charity event in Salt Lake, and he can hoop,” Browne said. “Him, Royce O’Neale, they can hoop.”
High praise from a guy who is in his third year with team, and is actually a virtual replica of himself in the video game.
“You actually have your face virtually scanned into the game,” Browne said. “So I’m actually watching myself on the court competing with five other guys. So, it’s insane. It’s funny kind of living my dreams out virtually.”