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The Sacramento Kings on Wednesday will be hosting Tech Night, including a halftime eSports game of Super Smash Bros being displayed on the Golden 1 Center’s 4K video board that will serve as a look into the NBA’s eSports future.

The Kings’ involvement with eSports will stretch beyond this week, as the team is among those that will participate in the upcoming NBA 2K eLeague, according to President Chris Granger. Last month, the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. announced the eLeague, which will become first U.S. professional sports league to operate an eSports league.

Since the announcement, which slated that the league will begin in 2018, there hasn’t been much said about how NBA 2K teams will be selected, where they’ll compete, how players will be compensated, which NBA organizations will field teams and the cost to buy-in to the eLeague. Sources did tell SportTechie that there would be a six-figure buy-in for each NBA team participating in the eLeague. It will include about eight to 12 teams to start, according to Commissioner Adam Silver.

SportTechie inquired with NBA teams around the upcoming NBA 2K eLeague and asked if they’d answer the same set of questions. In response to SportTechie, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote, “I don’t have any details.” However, Cuban did comment to the Dallas Morning News last month, saying that the organization was picked by the NBA to participate in the first iteration of the NBA 2K eLeague.

“I think there is significant upside for fans and 2k players,” Cuban wrote in an email to the newspaper.

Some other NBA teams responded either with a “no comment” or an email at the league office to reach out.

The Kings, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers issued some remarks to SportTechie via email. Below are answers from the three organizations about their involvement, if any, with the eLeague along with additional thoughts on eSports and its intersection with the NBA. It should be noted that not all three questions were answered by each organization.

1) Do you know if you’ll be one of the first teams participating in the league? If yes, what was the process for becoming one of the first teams? Again if yes, why did it make sense to buy-in early to the NBA 2K eLeague?

We will absolutely be participating in the league. From the beginning, (owner Vivek Ranadive) has focused us on utilizing emerging technologies and platforms to bring us closer to our fans. eSports are clearly a part of that equation. This is a perfect opportunity for us to engage a young, highly engaged, global audience in a very authentic way. And with all of the tech enhancements packed into Golden 1 Center, from blazing fast connectivity to the only 4k Ultra HD video board in the NBA, we believe we are uniquely positioned to host the biggest eSports events.

— Chris Granger, President, Sacramento Kings

We’re really excited about the concept, and our hope is to participate in the inaugural season. The NBA is an international league, and esports has become a global phenomenon. As the two entities began to unite, the logical next step was to create a league to compete in one of the sports world’s most popular games in NBA 2K. 

— Michael McCullough, Chief Marketing Officer/Executive Vice President, Miami Heat

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2) Regardless if your organization will be one of the first teams in the league, how do you see eSports/NBA 2K and the league complementing each other from a business standpoint? Where are the overlapping synergies?

The overlapping synergies lie in the Cavs strong understanding of the digital sales and marketing space. With the addition of a dynamic eSports platform, the target audience that we engage and market to is expanded to more than just Cavs and NBA fans, but loyal gamers as well. Additionally, the Cavs have a good core of existing partnerships that could scale to eSports and benefit from the unique segment eSports offers from a sponsorship standpoint.

— Mike Conley, Vice President,Digital, Cleveland Cavaliers 

This is a great chance to for NBA teams to participate in the eSports space in a way that feels very authentic to us — its about the game of basketball. Engaging a youthful, diverse, tech-savvy audience on a global basis is something the NBA has successfully focused on for years. The extension of that focus into the eSports space is a natural fit.

— Chris Granger, President, Sacramento Kings

There are great synergies between esports and the NBA. From a Misfits/HEAT perspective, there are enormous opportunities for us to expand not only our HEAT brand and global footprint, but the game of basketball, to an international audience primarily made up of millennials while giving Misfits an opportunity to have a bigger platform with NBA fans worldwide.  

— Michael McCullough, Chief Marketing Officer/Executive Vice President, Miami Heat

3) Where is the league and all of its teams currently at when it comes to understanding the eSports landscape? How are the league/teams continuing to grow their knowledge base?

Like any new platform, the education process and related opportunities will take time to fully evolve and understand and knowing how the league and teams operate will be the first order of business. There is an appreciation and respect for the magnitude of the opportunity. It will take complete buy-in and a deep commitment in order for eSports to be successful for each team.

— Mike Conley, Vice President, Digital, Cleveland Cavaliers 

I can’t speak for the rest of the league, but from our perspective, we recognized the benefits of this partnership the moment Misfits founder and CEO Ben Spoont presented the idea to us. We took our time in trying to understand esports, and once we had a grasp on the inner workings of the sport, we immersed ourselves into figuring out ways to grow the partnership and the brands.

— Michael McCullough, Chief Marketing Officer/Executive Vice President, Miami Heat

Along with the Heat, owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors have all made strategic investments or purchases in eSports as well, with the Houston Rockets also becoming the first NBA team to hire a dedicated eSports executive for its front office.

The Philadelphia 76ers kicked off the eSports hoopla, purchasing two franchises in late September and combining them under the Team Dignitas umbrella. Throughout the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the 76ers have cross-promoted the eSports organization at both Wells Fargo Arena and on the jerseys of its D-League team.

Players like Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin and Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko are now tied to eSports as well.

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