On Thursday morning, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that 17 NBA teams will take part in the NBA 2K eLeague, to launch in February of 2018. Professional gamers from a “global pool of players” will be drafted onto these teams and compete against each other in 5-on-5 play as a “full-time job.”
"This is the first step in what promises to be an extraordinary league, bringing together the world's best gamers and showcasing elite competition on an international stage," NBA 2K esports league managing director Brendan Donohue said in a statement. "Our teams have expressed tremendous enthusiasm for esports, and we are looking forward to forming something truly unique for basketball and gaming fans around the globe."
Much like the NBA, the NBA 2K eLeague will feature head-to-head competition between its 17 teams and an extended schedule that includes a regular season, bracketed playoff system and championship matchup. But instead of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the rest of the Blazers' starting lineup, five yet-to-be-determined professional eSports players will don virtual red and black uniforms featuring the Blazers' iconic pinwheel logo.
Other teams with affiliates include the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, and Washington Wizards.
The NBA 2K video game series has been around since 1999 with new annual releases since the 2000 NBA season (hence the name). It is highly popular among eSports enthusiasts. The NBA 2K eLeague regular season is anticipated to be roughly five months long, with playoffs and finals as well.