The NBA already has an official esports league with various teams represented, but with the live basketball season on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s reportedly about to put real NBA players on the sticks. Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes cites league sources indicating that a 16-player NBA 2K tournament lasting 10 days will begin on Friday, with ESPN set to broadcast it.
With sports pretty much shut down around the world, networks are desperate for live content and athletes have nothing to do. So far, NASCAR has made the most noticeable shift to esports with races that it airs on Fox, and now the NBA is apparently ready to follow. Fox also aired a Madden tournament this past weekend, and can likely shift scheduled events around to do even more.
Ever since the NBA season was put on hold and the NBA 2K League postponed its activities, teams like the Suns have been livestreaming some games already. But bringing in league stars could put an even bigger spotlight on videogame basketball as a spectator sport. According to Haynes, Demarcus Cousins, who missed almost all of the last two seasons due to injuries, is scheduled to participate, but there’s no word on who else may be in, even with a league full of known gamers who occasionally hop on live stream. Players Like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been on the 2K cover in recent years, but now we might find out who can actually play at a high level.