The Boston Celtics are looking to spread their championship-winning expertise to the virtual basketball court.
NBA teams are looking into investing in eSports teams, with a number of current and former pro athletes purchasing stakes in eSports leagues and teams around the globe.
The creation of the NBA 2K eSports league stands to be the most appealing investment opportunity for NBA teams, however, offering a means to directly enhance the brand within the pro gaming circuit.
The Celtics appear deeply invested in the process, and are actively looking at housing a Boston-based team for the NBA 2K league.
Speaking on the Forbes SportsMoney podcast, Celtics Managing Partner, Governor and Chief Executive Officer, Wyc Grousbeck, said the organisation is in a “trial phase” for testing out the technology, finances, and marketing of the pro gaming scene.
“This first season coming up will be an interesting one,” he said. “It’ll be more of an R&D season probably versus a full-fledged complete huge thing. We think the economics are real. The teams will each opt-in. The Celtics will be opting in. There will be an eCeltics.”
The first NBA 2K season will begin in 2018. Grousbeck says a team will likely be based in Boston.
“We will find players, we will compensate these players. We’ll house them in Boston. They’ll be a team. They will train. There’s training for this. And then we’ll go compete against the other NBA teams in 2K …We will stream these matches.”
Interestingly, while the Celtics organisation is tempted with its own team, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko has already purchased a team of his own in the Detroit Renegades, a franchise expected to compete on the NBA 2K circuit.
The Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings have also expressed interest in the NBA 2K eLeague, as have the Toronto Raptors.
“We love the way the younger fans are engaging with eSports,” Grousbeck continued. “Madison Square Garden sells out in six minutes for an eSports event. It’s actually a billion dollar business now worldwide and growing.”
The NBA 2K eLeague will start with around 8-12 teams, with the expectation that all 30 NBA teams will eventually be represented in some capacity.
Each NBA owner will be given the opportunity to build teams at their own pace, according to the league.
The teams will have five gamers to represent the team, with a full 82-game season and playoff bracket expected to shape the tournament. It’s hoped that the Finals will take place in an actual NBA arena.